Thousands of teens await Indiana foster homes; homes needed for siblings
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - In Indiana, over a thousand siblings are separated between foster homes.
Terrilynn Durnall, social worker for the Youth Advocate Program in Indiana said there’s a huge need for more foster families to take in siblings.
Adoption rates have dropped 23 percent since 2019, according to the Indiana Department of Child Services.
“These are brothers and sisters who have lived together their whole life, and because they have entered the foster care system and they did not have homes that they fit into, the state has had to separate them.” Durnall said.
Durnall said they also need more homes for teenagers, pre-teens, and children with medical needs.
“Foster homes that represent our foster children,” Durnall said. “We need families that represent the ethnic backgrounds.”
Durnall said they also need more bilingual foster parents. She also said there are also many kids of different nationalities needing homes. They also need families willing to foster LGBTQ youth.
”We have lots of wonderful, single foster parents,” Durnall said. “And you also don’t have to be older in age to be a foster parent. We have lots of foster parents in their early 20′s and they are amazing foster parents, even foster parents to teenagers because they can certainly relate to them.”
For the Hart sisters from New Albany, Amanda and Madison said foster care is home. Amanda is 19. Madison is 18.
From kindergarten through high school, they said their foster care family in New Albany has always been there for them. Aungelique Walls, who they call “Angie”, is their bonus sister.
”They have been in my life since they were babies,” Walls said. “They are basically little sisters to me. Anyone that knows me knows them.”
Walls said she has fostered nearly 30 kids. She said she was inspired to apply to become a foster mom by her biological mom, who fostered the Hart sisters.
”When I moved out and got my own apartment, Angie was right there with me,” Amanda Hart said. ”I look up to her for everything. She is my best friend.”
Walls said taking in foster teens has been great for her.
”I had a couple teenagers and it went from bad grades to A’s and B’s,” Walls said. “No involvement in anything to being the only girl on the soccer team at the school she went to.”
The three said their favorite memories have been the family trips they have been on and that they get to do everything together.
“We just got to be a family,” the Hart sisters said. “We weren’t foster kids. We were just family. We weren’t considered as, ‘Oh, these are our foster kids.’ We were considered as family.”
Durnall said the pandemic has actually made the foster licensing process easier, now that they have more virtual training options.
For a list of National Youth Advocate requirements to become a foster parent in Indiana, click or tap here.
To apply to become a foster parent in Indiana, click or tap here.
Copyright 2022 WAVE. All rights reserved.