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Every Child Central Oregon sees growing need for foster parents as children await stable homes

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, here in Central Oregon, there are 173 resource families, otherwise known as foster families, and 300 children in their care.

About 50 percent of the foster children are placed with relatives. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of resource homes have declined.

Every Child Central Oregon, a Redmond based nonprofit which started up in 2019 and is a new 21 Cares for Kids partner, works to support the needs of families fostering kids, in order to help more kids grow in a stable environment sooner.

Melissa Williams, the executive director of ECCO, was inspired to launch the nonprofit after adopting a baby in 2017. 

“We satisfy needs for kids coming into foster care, or are in care already," Williams said. "We are pulling (items of) needs, bagging them. Case workers, foster resource parents are coming to pick them up as quickly as possible."

ECCO offers clothing, a variety of safety products, bikes, games, diapers, and more. It serves Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook counties, and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Oregon DHS Retention and Recruitment Champion Stacie Navarro-Ladig said, "I think the majority of children that come into foster care are coming into care due to neglect and threat of harm. And that is basically due to substance abuse, domestic violence, physical abuse or sexual abuse as well."

Resource parent Jasmine Wilder said, "Kids who 'age out' of the foster care system -- 80% of them will spend time incarcerated, homeless, or struggle with addiction."

Wilder lives in Central Oregon and fostered her first child in 2021, followed by nine more placements. She now cares for a 3-year-old child.

She shared major challenges youth in foster care face.

“Instability, a lot of it’s generational too," Wilder said. "I in fact have a foster placement who is the child of one of my friends I grew up with, who was in the foster care system.”

Wilder also said many youth in foster care experience going back and forth between their biological parent and a resource parent several times over.

“It’s supposed to be, in an ideal situation, a reunification thing," Wilder said. "You have to go in with that understanding. You shouldn’t go into it wanting to adopt. The system is about reunification, and for the most part, I would love to support reunification -- I just think that it’s supported too long, to the detriment of the child."

Williams said, “These children didn’t ask to come into foster care. It wasn’t by their choice, and we as a community have a responsibility to be a part of the solution.”

To play a role in your community, you can apply to be a resource parent or volunteer with ECCO to help kids in foster care.

Article Topic Follows: Special Reports

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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.


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