PHOENIX — Maricopa County is in desperate need of families to care for foster children and a local nonprofit organization is extending a hand to people across the Valley to open their hearts and homes to children in need this summer.
Child Crisis Arizona, a licensing agency based in Phoenix, announced this week that there were only two available beds in the nearly 200 homes that are currently licensed with the agency.
But those beds are likely already filled since the Thursday announcement: The agency said it anticipated those two beds to be filled within the week.
The agency said the situation has become "desperate" over the last two months, with more than 13,000 children currently in the state's foster care system.
"We usually see a steady flow of new families coming in once experienced foster families decide it is time to close their license," Torrie Taj, CEO of Child Crisis Arizona, said in the news release.
"But recently we’ve seen that flow of new families decrease and now as children are coming into the system we are unable to assist them. We have no homes for any more children.”
When there is no room for foster care children within family member or foster homes, the state Department of Child Safety sends them to emergency placement shelters or group homes.
But with a consistent need for foster homes, Child Crisis Arizona says that is not enough.
The agency said the process to become licensed takes an average of six months, including background checks, an interview, a home inspection and 30 hours of training.
“There has never been enough foster homes in Maricopa County to address the need,” Taj said.
“We need to do more to raise awareness that there are children in foster care who want and need a healthy family to care for them.”
Child Crisis Arizona is holding a foster care and adoption exploration meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. on July 2 at 817 N. Country Club Drive in Mesa.
“We really do our best to ensure our families they are not in this alone,” Taj said.
“Children are going through a lot when they come into foster care and we want our families to be prepared to love and support them so that the children aren’t further traumatized.”