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Organizations working to recruit more foster parents in Douglas County

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SUPERIOR, WI -- There's a growing need for people in Douglas County to open their homes to children in need.

With foster homes filling up and hundreds of kids needing a place to live, several organizations, including Superior Young Professionals, helped educate those interested in becoming foster parents at a meeting in Superior on Thursday night.

Several families visited the Fairlawn Mansion to learn more about the need for foster parents in Douglas County.

Many organizations were on hand, passing along information about how to get involved.

"We consistently have people that are interested, just the sheer amount of children that are in care is steadily increasing, and it has been over the last 4 or 5 years," said Brittany Johnson with Douglas County Health & Human Services.

Johnson says they have 24 licensed foster homes right now. Only half are accepting kids because the others are full.

"We have a lot of foster homes. However we have far too many children who still need homes," Johnson said.

Organizers say one of the most important ways to recruit people to become foster parents is to break the stigma around who can do it, and who can't.

"You can be a single mom to be a foster parent. You can be a married couple. You can be two husbands, you can be two wives, it doesn't matter what your identity is. As long as you love kids and have a will to do this, you can be a foster parent," said long-time foster parent, Kelly Schoen.

Schoen has fostered 20 children in Douglas County in the last 4 years.

She says making sure there are enough foster homes is necessary for the well-being of the kids.

"You can only take so many kids, and you need to be able to have the time for those kids, and to give them that love and nurturing that they deserve during that time," Shoen said.

That support extends to the child's parents as well.

"So that they really know their child is being well taken care of while they're trying to help themselves and get better," Schoen said.

Schoen says anyone interested in foster care should reach out to county organizations, and attend events like these, to know what's right for them.

"It's important for a prospective foster parent to come talk to a foster parent who's actually done it, because no one knows what it's like more than a foster parent who's living it day to day," Schoen said.

Organizers say there is a foster care support group with Douglas County professionals each month, as well as other monthly meetings where anyone can attend to learn more about foster care.

The organizations involved in Thursday's informational session included Douglas County Department of Health & Human Services, Wisconsin Adoption & Permanency Support, Douglas County Economic Support, Lutheran Social Services of WI and MI, and New Hope for Families.

For more information, click here.

Jenna Wells

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