The Department of Health & Human Services Foster Care program is experiencing an urgent need for emergency short-term foster homes in addition to an ongoing demand for long-term foster care families throughout Humboldt County.
“There are many circumstances that make it difficult for biological families to safely care for a child,” said Stephanie Weldon, DHHS deputy director of Children and Family Services. “In a county as small as ours, it doesn’t take much to overwhelm the number of homes we have available.”
When safety concerns require that a child be removed from his or her birth family, social workers first attempt placement with a relative, someone known to the child, or a Tribally-approved home (for a Tribal child). When this is not possible, a stable, loving foster home is needed for placement.
“Children who are taken into foster care become the responsibility of their entire community,” said DHHS Assistant Director Barbara LaHaie. “It’s up to all of us to make sure they have safe, loving homes.”
There are many reasons to foster a child, the most important being to help a child in need. Providing care for a foster child allows Humboldt County children to remain in their community. Additionally, keeping siblings together can help lessen the trauma experienced by children, so families who can provide a home to sibling groups are being sought.
Foster families are needed for various lengths of stay, from one night of emergency shelter care to permanent placement. Adults of all ages and ethnic backgrounds and families of all compositions are encouraged to apply.
DHHS staff provides applicants with extensive assistance navigating the licensing process. Children in foster care are eligible for Medi-Cal, which includes free medical care and counseling services. Monthly stipends are provided. Because many of the children who enter foster care have experienced trauma or neglect, additional supports are available, including foster parent mentoring and support groups.
Currently, there are 367 children in foster care in Humboldt County. The county has 167 active relative, non-related extended family or Tribally-specified foster homes and 50 active, licensed county foster homes.
For more information about becoming a foster parent, call DHHS’s foster care hotline at 499-3410.
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