CLEVELAND - We have told you how more parents have lost custody of their children because of the opioid epidemic. It has led to a desperate need for foster families.
However, child welfare agencies are strapped for cash and don't have an advertising budget to get the word out, but Ashtabula County is getting creative with crowdfunding to solve the problem.
"So, this is our GoFundMe campaign,” said Tania Burnett, executive director of Ashtabula County Children Services.
“We need more foster families,” she said. “Our children need good homes."
She said local marketing firm, Fauver DeMuesy Communications of Westlake, reached out to them with the idea.
The site launched this May, which is also National Foster Care Month.
The money raised will be used for billboards, as well as radio and tv spots to advertise the great need.
"We have 39 foster homes in our county and 237 children in our custody," said Burnett.
Some children will stay with family or family friends. The rest are with foster parents licensed throughout Ashtabula County.
However, the overflow is placed with private-network families. That means they've moved hours away and into new schools; their little worlds uprooted.
“It's a crisis here,” she said. “And not just in Ashtabula, but across the state, there is a shortage of foster homes."
Burnett said their children spend about nine months in foster care on average.
She said most parents whose kids are in county custody right now are dealing with a drug addiction, and treatment takes time, as does the process of then proving they can provide a safe and sober environment. That means more kids are in the system and they're staying longer than usual.
“It takes a person who wants to support and be nurturing, and can be that caring person that those kids need right now," said Burnett.
Even if you cannot be a foster parent, you can still donate. Burnett says she hopes people just share the page to spread the word of the desperate need for foster families.