Study: Many interested in fostering may be unaware of eligibility

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Foster Care Review Office’s September 2023 annual report shows “3,717 of Nebraska’s children were in the foster care system through out-of-home care in June.” 1,705 of those children were in the eastern region of the state.

For 13 years, Florese Dixon has fostered pregnant teens of all races and backgrounds.

Her nephew started as a foster parent, then she and other family members jumped on board after hearing his experience.

“My daughter, I was talking with her about it, so she went and took the class. And then my sister-in-law, she went and took the class. And then my niece, she took the class. We call ourselves a foster family,” she said.

A new report from Gallup and Kidsave’s EMBRACE Project reports two-thirds of Americans don’t know if they’re eligible to foster.

According to Shantay Armstrong with Kidsave, many interested in fostering either lack close proximity to the foster system or may base it off of stereotypical media portrayals. Her goal is linking them to the right resources.

“If then we can do more education for example or awareness around what the foster care system is actually like, we can positively increase feelings,” she said.

One form of education is through training offered at Boys Town.

“It’s about a 30-hour training that runs through everything…like how to work with biological families and attachment, grief, loss, things like that,” said Matt Priest, director of Foster Family Services at Boys Town.

  • Must be 21 years of age or older
  • Meet basic income guidelines
  • Provide adequate bedroom space that meets local fire codes and a separate bed for each child
  • Have reliable transportation
  • Complete 30 hours of free training
  • Agree to use non-physical discipline for children
  • Be willing for everyone in your household ages 13 and older to undergo background checks
  • Be willing for all licensees to be fingerprinted as part of the federal Adam Walsh Act

While the goal of fostering is to be temporary and end with children reunifying with their families, it can leave a lasting impression on the kids and the parent.

“It’s very rewarding when I see my kids flourish. When they go out that door, it’s like a part of me goes out with them because I miss them,” said Dixon.