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Idaho sees growing need for foster families

National foster care month

POCATELLO, Idaho - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has named May as National Foster Care Month.

The most recent report published on the department's website indicates more than 400,000 kids nationwide were placed in the foster care system in 2010.

To put this into perspective, it would take approximately 8,000 school buses to transport all of those kids or even 30 Holt Arena stadiums in order to seat everybody.

According to the department's regional representatives, there has been a steady incline in the number of children placed in the foster care system in Idaho.

Lisa Williams is the local Region 6 Child Welfare Supervisor for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and said the state received 19,104 phone calls this past year alone regarding people referring kids across the state to the foster care system. Out of those, there were 2,563 children who were actually placed in the system.

"That equates to a call placed every 27 minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Williams said. "So you can see that we have a high need for response for child welfare."

Williams also said with only 165 foster families in the region, she is seeing a growing need for foster parents these days.

The department's report also shows Idaho having a 2.9 percent foster care entry rate. Compared to the rest of the nation, the state with the highest entry rate is West Virginia at 8.5 percent, and Puerto Rico hitting the nation's low at 0.9 percent.

Williams said with the need for more people in the eastern Idaho region to become foster parents, anyone who is interested can call the 2-1-1 Idaho Careline at 1-800-926-2588.

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter: @KaitlinLoukides

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