By Stephanie Aschmann Spires
May was National Foster Care Awareness Month. On April 5, 2020, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services reported a record high of 9,990 children in out-of-home care, which broke the previous record of 9,916 children set in November 2018, and represents an increase of 243 children since Jan. 5, 2020.
In 2019, over 18,000 children were placed in Kentucky’s foster care system and over 100,000 children lived with a person other than their biological parents, according to data collected by Kentucky Youth Advocates.
In his first State of the Commonwealth speech in January, Gov. Andy Beshear said “we have the power and the responsibility to break the cycle of poverty, addiction and neglect. This should drive our decisions on economic development, on funding for public schools and social services, and on health care.”
Over the past nine years, I have fostered and/or provided respite for over three dozen children, ranging from newborn to young adults. I have adopted three children from foster care and hope to add a fourth adoption in the coming months. Over 90% of the children who have spent time in my home also have at least one biological parent who spent time in foster care as a child.
It is time to end this cycle.
- IT’S FREE | Sign up for The Lane Report email business newsletter. Receive breaking Kentucky business news and updates daily. Click here to sign up
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, contact the Cabinet for Health and Family Services or one of the many private foster agencies in Central Kentucky. There are many ways you can support foster children without becoming a foster parent. Local organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, the NEST, CASA, Arbor Youth Services, and the Foster Care Council all need mentors, volunteers and funding.
If you have friends or family who are fostering, offer to bring them dinner, run errands for them, or give them a night of babysitting to show your support for their family.
It is time to invest in Kentucky’s kids, our future workforce. Kentucky’s kids need us to recognize that each of us can play a role in enhancing the life of a child in foster care. ■
Stephanie Aschmann Spires is owner of Stephanie Spires Strategies LLC