Thousands of children across the state are in need of foster care, but there are too few foster care homes available.
According to some figures, as many as 12,000 young people need a foster home but only about 1,000 are available.
In McIntosh County, 54 children have been placed in foster care homes by the Department of Human Services.
“Twelve of those removed from their home have been placed in other counties,” said Christi Nunn, with Saint Francis Community Services. Some (out of county placements) have to do with safety and security, but mainly it’s because there are not enough homes.”
Nunn spoke to the Eufaula Area Chamber of Commerce last week during its monthly membership meeting, which was held at Amy’s restaurant in Longtown.
Nunn spoke to the Chamber in order to get the word out about Saint Francis Community Services, a private, nonprofit agency that serves Kansas, where its headquarters is based, Nebraska, Mississippi and, since earlier this year, Oklahoma.
Nunn’s region covers much of the eastern southeastern part of the state, from Tahlequah to Idabel and from Ada to Seminole. It is based in McAlester.
“In January, 54 children were placed with foster care in McIntosh County,” Nunn said.
Most – 29 – were placed with relatives and neighbors. Sixteen were placed in traditional foster homes – with families they had no prior contact with.
Nunn is on a mission to recruit more foster homes.
“If you know anyone who is interested or has thought about being a foster parent, pass the word,” she said.
Her office number is .
Nunn said Saint Francis Community Services will train potential foster parents and provide support services for them and the foster children.
The list of support includes: free, professional, ongoing support and training.
Support services 14/7.
Mileage reimbursement for medical trips more than 25 miles.
Medical cards for foster children.
Paid day care for working foster parents caring for a Saint Francis youth.
To become a foster parent: Be 21 years of age or older.
Take 27 hours of preservice training. Pass criminal and child abuse registry clearance checks.
Have an outside source of income other than foster care reimbursement.
Own or rent your residence that meets all state requirements.
Be willing to to work as a team with children, families, agencies and other professionals.
Nunn said the agency makes an effort to keep siblings together when it is necessary to take them out of their home.
“It’s better that they stay in the same (foster) home,” she said. “The thrive that way.
“In McIntosh County we have 11 sets of siblings not placed together yet. Brothers and sisters are in separate households because there are not enough homes.”