Southern Illinois experiencing foster parent shortage - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Southern Illinois experiencing foster parent shortage

MARION, IL (KFVS) -

Social services agencies say they're seeing a greater need for foster homes in southern Illinois, but fewer people stepping up to become foster parents.

According to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI), nearly all of the children from southern Illinois in foster care were removed from the home either directly or indirectly because of the growing problem of substance abuse.

At the same time, (LSSI) case workers say the sluggish economy has made it tougher to find families willing to open their home to a foster child.

"In hard economic times it makes it a lot harder to find foster parents who have the ability to open up their home to take on more responsibility for a child or children."

LSSI licensing and adoptions supervisor Theresa Pritchett says the need is great.

"We have approximately 350 children in foster care currently," said Pritchett. "The need is so great that just as quickly as we're licensing homes we're filling them -within a couple of days."

Just under three years ago, newborn Lauryn Elizabeth was one of them.

"Her birth parents had other children separately and had her together and those other children were at some point or another removed from them, so when she was born she was removed from the hospital, actually," said Lauryn's adoptive mother Kim Hargraves.

Lauryn was put in a temporary foster home and at six weeks old, then she was given to Hargraves. The adoption was completed in August and last week, the pair celebrated Lauryn's third birthday.

"She is absolutely the love of my life," said Hargraves.

Hargraves says before Lauryn came along, she tried but was unable to conceive a child and adoption seemed out of reach.

"For me personally, I thought private adoption was too costly," said Hargraves.

Through LSSI's Foster to Adopt Program, Hargraves was able to have the daughter she always wanted.

"She's extremely bright, very happy, loving and she could've had a much different outcome if LSSI hadn't been there to intervene in her life and see that she go to a good home," said Hargraves.

Pritchett says babies like Lauryn and foster kids of all ages need homes now, and she becoming a foster parent isn't as difficult as you might think.

"The first step is to call us," said Pritchett. "We're there every step of the process."

If you'd like more information about becoming a foster parent, LSSI is holding an open house Thursday, February 17 at its new Harrisburg location on from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. The LSSI office is located on the fifth floor of 2 N. Vine Street, Harrisburg, IL. The office can be reached at (618) 252-7361.

You can also contact Theresa Pritchett in Marion at (618) 997-9196 Extension #813 or click here to visit LSSI's website.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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