Foster care shortage in many states as Colorado nonprofit seeks more parents willing to help

DENVER – Colorado is facing a foster care shortage along with more than a dozen other states.

One nonprofit in Colorado said there aren’t enough families willing to take in the increasing number of children they’re seeing enter the foster care system this year.

This comes as a lot of children are winding up in foster care across the United States. There are over 391,000 children and youth in foster care — and approximately 20,000 young people age out of the foster care system each year without a permanent family, according to Child Welfare Information Gateway.

It’s a service of the Children’s Bureau within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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The Griffith Centers is a nonprofit headquartered in Denver with offices in Colorado Springs, Greeley and Grand Junction.

Chantelle Johnson is director of the Griffith Centers’ foster care program. Johnson told Fox News the program needs more foster parents.

There are over 391,000 children and youth in foster care — and approximately 20,000 young people age out of the foster care system each year without a permanent family, according to Child Welfare Information Gateway. (Kennedy Hayes/Fox News)

“There is just a shortage — whether it’s a lack of education, a lack of understanding or just a lack of resources for these foster families,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the shortage is especially seen with teenagers and siblings looking to stay together.

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She said these children are often tougher to place in foster homes from the start.

At least 16 other states seeing a foster shortage include Arizona, Texas, Wisconsin and Georgia, according to research by Fox News.

A shortage of foster care capabilities is spreading across the United States. (Fox News)

The number of kids in Colorado’s foster care system grew to 4,351 in 2023; that’s up 11% from 3,892 in 2022, according to a report on foster homes and families.

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In Colorado, they are seeing an average of 10 children a day enter the foster care system.

Lacy Ruffin, a foster care home supervisor for the Griffith Centers, said she sees the difference that having a safe home can make to a young adult’s development.

There is a need for more foster care parents. Having a safe home can make a big difference to a young adult’s development, said one supervisor. 

“We had a child that was in placement, that came to foster parents nonverbal — could not explain anything,” said Ruffin.

She said the placement team has “been working with her [and] she is able to speak in full sentences now.”

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Jacob Harrington said he became a foster parent through the Griffith Centers.

Harrington said he knew nothing about foster care before he first became a dad eight years ago.

The state of Colorado is facing a shortage of foster care parents. Jacob Harrington, at right, is pictured with his youngest son. Harrington became a foster dad eight years ago; he and his wife have fostered five children.  (Kennedy Hayes/Fox News)

“My wife and I went from zero kids to three and it was awful. It was hard,” he said with a smile.

“But we had such great support.”

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Harrington said he and his wife have fostered five children.

He said the process was simple — and he encourages anyone who may be interested to apply to become a foster parent, too.

“If you have the desire to see growth, development and a safe place for kids that don’t have that, at least go find out about it,” Harrington said.

The nonprofit says anyone interested in learning more can visit their website for contact information.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

Kennedy Hayes joined Fox News in 2023 as a multimedia reporter based in Denver.

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