February 14, 2017 07:01 AM
More than 400 children are pulled out of their homes every year in Monroe County, and between the opioid crisis and the rising poverty level, it could be getting worse.
When those children are removed from their homes they’re placed with foster parents, usually on a temporary basis, and Monroe County is seeing fewer people willing to take on the task.
Jennifer Atkinson's family is made up of eight children, four biological, two she's adopted and two in foster care. She’s one of 258 foster parents in the county. They are responsible for approximately 436 children in our area.
“It's honestly a very deeply satisfying thing to do,” Atkinson said. “You feel like in your little corner of the world you’re making a difference even if it’s just one child at a time.”
Those who agree to foster a child get between $17 and $23 a day to take care of those kids. For Atkinson, she takes on this task hoping to break the cycle and make a difference.
“A very large portion of the children who have passed through our home…we've had more than 40 kids pass through our home that are children of parents who when they were younger were a part of the foster care system themselves,” Atkinson said.
With the current state of our economy, children are in need. Monroe County’s $18.9 million Foster Care department sees fewer parents like Atkinson.
Corinda Crossdale, Commissioner of Department of Human Services, says they have a particularly tough time finding homes for teenagers.
“A lot of foster parents who do take on this role continue into this role for many, many years so a lot of our foster parents actually age out and we've had a few that have passed away,” Crossdale said.
When they die, others often fail to step up to the plate. Atkinson hopes people put aside their misconceptions about foster care and answer the call.
“You can absolutely be a full-time worker and my home is very tiny considering the number of children that fill it,” Atkinson said.
Over the years, Monroe County has seen a decline in the number of children placed in foster care. Officials say it's because they seek a home within a child's family before placing them in the system.
Over in Ontario County, it's the same story. However, both counties tell us they could use more foster parents.
Created: February 14, 2017 07:01 AM
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