MEDINA — As the number of children in the care of Job and Family Services rises, more foster families are needed, the agency’s director said.
Not only has there been an influx of drug-related referrals, the number of calls related to physical abuse and neglect also has risen, said Jeff Felton, director of Job and Family Services.
From 2014-17, Felton said, there’s been a 73 percent increase in the number of children entering foster care:
- 2014 — 92 children;
- 2015 — 113;
- 2016 — 138;
- 2017 — 159.
Felton said 75 percent of the cases involve some sort of substance abuse.
“We’re starting to see a decrease in opioid use and an increase in methamphetamine and cocaine,” he said. “A lot of people are testing positive for fentanyl.”
He’s also seeing people using carfentanyl, “an elephant tranquilizer 100 times stronger than fentanyl.”
Felton said there are 35 certified foster families in Medina County.
“We have some great foster families,” Felton said. “They can only take so many until their homes are full.”
He said 40 percent of the foster families are related to the children, mostly grandparents, aunts or uncles.
“It takes a special person to open their homes to these kids,” Felton said. “There are a lot of those (special people) in Medina County.”
A news release from the agency said licensed foster families play a critical role during a child’s time in custody, providing them with a safe and supportive environment to live and grow while teaching them life lessons and providing stability. These lessons potentially can last a lifetime, reinforcing positive attitudes and self-esteem during times of adversity.
At this point, however, “most of our foster homes are full,” said Jessica Yeager of Job and Family Services.
To recruit more foster families, Job and Family Services, 232 Northland Drive, will host a Foster Care Open House from 5-6 p.m. Jan. 30.
Yeager said her office normally hosts foster recruitments twice a year. The parents go through a series of training and classes to become licensed.
The next foster parent training will begin 9 a.m. Feb. 3.
She said foster parents receive $30 a day to help with a child’s expenses, noting the child would be covered by Medicaid if there are any medical needs. Clothing also is available.
Anyone with questions about becoming a foster parent can call Sharon Holmes at (330) 661-0808.
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.