Ken Howlett, News Director at k105.com, reported that volunteers are needed in the following counties:
Boone, Boyd, Bracken, Breckinridge, Campbell, Carroll, Clinton, Cumberland, Fayette, Fleming, Floyd, Fulton, Gallatin, Graves, Hancock, Hardin, Harlan, Hickman, Jackson, Jefferson, Kenton, Knott, Laurel, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Madison, Marshall, Mason, McCreary, Monroe, Muhlenberg, Perry, Pike, Ohio, Owsley, Robertson, Scott, Trigg, Warren, Wayne, Webster, Whitley and Woodford.
In Fayette County, one private child-placing agency, Nightlight Christian Adoptions and Foster Services, is facing another type of shortage: not enough families are stepping up to foster children.
“There are children who are coming into care due to the drug epidemic,” Executive Director Dana Poynter, MS, said.
Administrative assistant, Leesa Del Rio said, “Kentucky is leading the nation in child abuse cases and also, in babies who are born to mothers who are addicted to substances.”
Del Rio said the number one leading cause for child abuse in Kentucky is neglect.
Due to the drug epidemic, the foster care industry is in need of more families to step up and provide safe homes. One of the many services Nightlight offers is placing children into foster homes and preparing the homes to bring a child in.
“We search for families who are willing to be foster families and train them, work with them,” Poynter said.
Del Rio adds, “It’s just such a huge issue for Kentucky and we’re in a crisis right now finding homes for all of the kids who need placement.”
Another huge shortage is at the state level, where Kentucky is needing more volunteers, in 45 counties, to look at the youth’s cases in court.
“Each county is responsible for having a volunteer review board for looking at each case,” Poynter said. “And if an adoption needs to occur, basically what they’re going to be doing is making recommendations to the courts.”
Nightlight has also seen another growing issue with families not returning to the foster program after one year.
“Because it’s hard,” Poynter said. “I think there’s not always enough respite families or caregivers to give them a break.”
Nightlight said families and caregivers are also stretched thin due to the pandemic.
“A lot of people became jobless, and that put a lot of stress on families and that leads to some abuse situations, and I feel like there were probably a lot of children that came into care at that time,” Poynter said.
Poytner and Del Rio are both foster parents themselves, and can attest to how rewarding it can be to foster children, whether it leads to reunification with the original families, or adoption. Poytner shares that she recently adopted her toddler daughter, Carolina, after fostering her for a few short weeks.
Nightlight said they understand not everyone is able to foster or adopt, but everyone can do something to help these crisis’ they’re facing.
To get involved or to donate to Nightlight Christian Adoptions, click here.