iowakidsnetThere’s an urgent call for Iowa families to open their homes to take in foster children and to adopt. Bambi Schrader, recruitment supervisor for Iowa KidsNet, says there’s a critical need for families to shelter sibling groups, teenagers and children who are older than eight-years-old.

“We have about 4,000 children in the foster care system,” Schrader says. “In 2015, there were 2,560 children referred into foster care. Unfortunately, we only have about 2,100 foster homes across our state right now so we’re in desperate need.” There’s a continual waiting list for children in Iowa seeking “forever homes.”

“A lot of times children are waiting longer in shelters or residential treatments or unsafe situations or there are being multiple children placed into a home where they might’ve only taken one or two children, now they have three or four,” Schrader says. “We want to make sure each child has their own unique home that meets their needs.” For many children in foster care, it could take three years to be adopted. She says there’s a need for every type of family as kids come in all types.

“We need everything from two-parent households to single-parent households, same-sex couples,” Schrader says. “We need some older couples that maybe aren’t looking to adopt but would take an infant that we want to reunify.”

Private adoptions may take several years and tens of thousands of dollars, but she says state adoptions through Iowa KidsNet are essentially free. The adoption process may take six months and it includes a home study, 30-hours of classwork and a background check.

“Having lots of money or having a nice, fancy home is not what the kids need,” Schrader says. “They need people who care about them. They need people who love them. They need people to be there after school and people who will say, ‘No, you’re wearing that to school. Go change your clothes,’ or put discipline into their lives. A lot of our kids don’t have that or when they do have it, it was done in a harmful way.”

More than 23,000 children age out of the foster care system nationwide every year. Last year in Iowa, 39 children aged out with no family or permanent home. Learn more at http://www.IowaKidsNet.comor by calling 800-243-0756.