By Gwen Rollings
There is a door in the United States that most Americans don’t open. If they did, they would discover some startling statistics about foster care:
According to iFoster in 2019, there are 440,000 foster youth nationwide; the need for foster parents is at an all time high; the median age in foster care is 6 ½ years old; only 5 percent of rural youth and 21 percent of urban foster youth report access to a computer at home; 30,000 youth between 18-21 years old age out of the foster system annually and exit without having found a forever home, necessitating fending for themselves; and the price of underinvesting in foster youth results in $1 million in societal costs.
Closer to home in the area surrounding Tampa Bay, an average of nine children are in crises every day and are removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect or abandonment.
However, there is a special door in the Tampa Bay area that has opened to reveal an opportunity for those seeking to change the present dismal foster care statistics. A Door of Hope (ADOH) offers an opportunity for kids in crisis to find loving homes. ADOH recruits, trains, licenses and supports Christian foster homes in the Florida Suncoast region.
According to Sarah Weaver, development coordinator for ADOH, people decide to become foster parents for a variety of reasons.
“My husband and I had a desire to be parents, but, due to a medical condition, couldn’t make that happen on our own. The idea of foster care was presented. We began classes in February 2016 and were licensed by May 2016. We took our very first placement of two little boys ages 2 and 3 and later adopted them and their little sister in 2018,” she said.
Weaver explained that the foster process involves filling out an inquiry form at adoorofhope.com, receiving an intake phone call and attending an orientation followed by professional parenting training. A home study will then be completed. Once approved, you’ll be licensed. ADOH will provide support and walk families through the process from start to finish.
Currently, there are 190 licensed foster care homes in this area. ADOH has set a goal of 300-plus homes by 2023. To achieve that goal, only one family per church would foster one child in crises, then every child would have a home.
For information on fostering, financial donations ($500 to place a child) or events in November and Christmas for fosters, visit adoorofhope.com.