Foster Homes, what we need, how you can help
By KariLee Pietz, Social Service Program Officer
On Oct. 1, 2013, there were 2,010 children in out-of-home care with OCS. Of these children and youth, 669 were placed with relative foster families and 62 percent of the children were Alaska Native. For the month of October 2013, there were 1,335 licensed foster homes / licensed foster group homes, and approximately 120 unlicensed relative caregivers. (For more statistics, please see the OCS website.)
What does the data tell us? That there is a high need for qualified foster homes in Alaska. OCS needs homes that can provide for children with complex medical, emotional or behavioral needs, because all children need a safe and stable home that can meet their needs.
Children in care need Alaska Native foster families to help them stay connected to their culture and heritage. Connecting to who they are and where they come from is vital. We need families with the skills and space to care for sibling groups, because keeping siblings together during difficult times is important to their success.
Recruitment can be done in many ways; efforts to recruit and retain foster homes is the job of all OCS staff. OCS also needs help from the community and tribal partners, reaching out to all potential foster families.
If you have an interest in recruiting foster homes, or becoming a foster parent yourself, please contact OCS staff. OCS can help you coordinate recruitment events, newsletters articles, presentations, etc. We all play a role in this and OCS would love to partner with you in this work, because together we can make a difference.