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Wisconsin's foster crisis: Thousands of kids, too few homes

A Look Inside the Critical Need for Foster Families in Wisconsin
A Look Inside the Critical Need for Foster Families in Wisconsin
Posted at 5:23 PM, Mar 19, 2024

KAUKAUNA (NBC 26) — Wisconsin faces an urgent need for foster care, and a Kaukauna family is sharing their story in an effort help.

  • Thousands of kids in foster care, but a severe shortage of foster homes.
  • Organizations like Foundations Health and Wholeness are actively recruiting families.
  • Meet the West Family from Kaukauna, they describe their foster home as a place of healing.

The need for foster families in Wisconsin is reaching a critical level, with thousands of kids in foster care but far too few foster homes available.
Organizations like Foundations Health and Wholeness are working to recruit more families to help address the urgent need.

Mollie West, describes her family's experience as foster parents: "Joyful, crazy, beautiful, and messy," she says.

A Look Inside the Critical Need for Foster Families in Wisconsin
The West family home in Kaukauna. Mollie and Brian West's children playing together in their backyard.

Over the past decade, Mollie and her husband Brian have opened their home to 15 foster children, providing them with the love and stability they need to thrive.

"We felt that all kids deserve to have a loving home and one adult who believed in them," Jodie explains.

However, families like the Wests are in high demand to support the approximately 7,000 children in foster care statewide.

Colin Drews, the foster care recruitment manager at Foundations Health and Wholeness, emphasizes the urgency of the situation.

"Every day, we are receiving referrals for kids who need foster homes, and unfortunately, because of the lack of foster homes, we're having to say no," he says.

Without enough foster homes, Drews says, children may end up in residential or treatment facilities that are not conducive to their health or well-being.

To address this issue, there are various ways you can make a difference, such as becoming licensed foster parents, providing respite care for short-term placements, or offering mentoring for a few hours.

For the West family, success came in the form of adopting three sisters who had been in their care. Mollie, once their foster mother, is now simply "Mom."

To learn more about how you can help foster kids in need, contact Foundations Health & Wholeness

You can also contact Brown County Foster Care on Facebook