Colorado has a shortage of foster parents. You can help.
As states across the country pass laws that allow discrimination in foster care and adoption, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) is raising awareness that everyone, especially members of the LGBTQ+ community, are welcome and encouraged to foster and adopt throughout Colorado. Getting this message out is especially important given the need for foster families in every community. Based on a CDHS analysis, the state needs 1,200 additional foster families by 2019.
“Sometimes with very little notice, caseworkers have to scramble to find a family ready and able to care for a child or teen who is entering foster care while their parents address safety concerns and learn new skills,” Minna Castillo Cohen, director of the CDHS Office of Children, Youth and Families, said. “We need additional foster families so that caseworkers can choose among many possible families so that each child or teen’s unique needs are met and they’re able to stay close to home.”
For an LGBTQ+ child or teen in foster care, having a stable, affirming foster family is especially important. National research shows that young people who identify as LGBTQ+ are overrepresented within foster care. LGBTQ-identified children and teens experience foster care for many of the same reasons as other young people in care, but they potentially have the added layer of trauma that comes with being rejected or mistreated because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
“Every child and teen deserves a nurturing, affirming family that provides them with a safe place to process their feelings of grief and loss, gives them the freedom to express who they are, and offers the support they need to become responsible, happy and healthy adults,” Castillo Cohen said.
Last year, 10,040 children and teens lived in an out-of-home placement like a foster family, group home or residential treatment center for their safety. Today in Colorado, there are approximately 4,868 children and teens in an out-of-home placement.
If it is not possible to ensure the safety and well-being of a child in their own home, a caseworker looks to family or friends willing to provide a temporary home while the parent or caregiver works to improve the situation at home. These families are known as "kinship families.” There are approximately 1,557 children and teens living with a kinship family, and there are approximately 2,190 children and teens living with a foster family.
An additional 809 children and teens are living in a congregate setting, such as a residential treatment center or a group home. Many of these 809 children and teens are ready to live with a foster family, where they are better able to heal from their past traumatic experiences, but no foster family is available to care for them.
Colorado does not discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. You can be married, single, divorced or living with a partner or friend. You can be a first-time parent or an experienced parent.
You can own your home or condo or you can rent. All that matters is you’re ready to make a difference for a child or teen at a time in their life when they need you the most.
Learn more about how you can help a child in Colorado on CO4Kids.org/fosterpride.