A Dubuque man is walking across Iowa — and back — to raise awareness about the state’s shortage of foster parents. Fifty-year-old Chris Barnett entered the foster care system at age 14 and has since devoted his life to the cause. For nearly three decades, he’s worked as an Iowa KidsNet foster care worker.
Barnett and his wife have also helped raise 30 foster children over the past nine years. “We’ve had a real struggle trying to place even infants at times lately and that’s never been that way in the past,” Barnett says. “In Dubuque, we’ve went from 100 homes when I started working there to about 50.”
Barnett says the shortage of foster care homes is a trend he’s seeing statewide. “Our kids end up getting placed out of the area they’re familiar with because we don’t have any empty homes,” Barnett says. “Our homes are always filled to capacity, so if there isn’t a home available, we end up changing their schools sometimes, splitting siblings up.”
He’s already walked some 300 miles from Dubuque to Council Bluffs and is about to head back across Iowa, with stops planned in Ames, Marshalltown, and Waterloo. Barnett says he hopes his “Foot’n it for Foster Care” trek inspires Iowans to consider becoming foster parents.