OK DHS Looks To Recruit 500 New Foster Families
OKLAHOMA CITY - Last Christmas, News 9 told you about a DHS program where parents could foster a child for the holidays. This year, DHS says it's suspending its Home for the Holidays program to meet an even greater need.
When the Department of Human Services settled a class action lawsuit against the foster care system, the agency agreed to recruit 500 new foster families within a year. Typical recruitment annually is usually about 150 families at best. One family says fostering has been the biggest blessing yet.
On any given day if you visit the Feist home you'll see teens chasing tots, hear yelling and giggling, see tears and dancing. They are a typical family. But what their family picture doesn't tell the whole story.
"It wasn't the system. It wasn't helping out. It was that child," said Guy Feist.
The Feists accepted a challenge from their pastor to become active Christians by giving their most precious gift – parenting. And it hasn't always been easy.
"We did say ‘No' on several occasions and then there was that one where we knew that was the one we needed to say ‘Yes' to," Feist said.
Over time, their family of four has become eight. In addition to their biological children Zac and Karly, Lisa and Guy adopted two kids and are fostering two more.
"We'll have kids in our home that we get really attached too and it's hard when they go to another placement and we know we are doing the right thing," said Feist.
DHS needs more than a few good families like the Feists.
"We are trying to recruit all types of people to be foster parents. They can be single men, women, [or] they can be families," said DHS spokesperson, Sheree Powell. "Us not doing it doesn't make the kids go away. It doesn't make the need go away. It just means now there is one less bed for that child, one less home, one less mom that tucks them in."
After settling the lawsuit, DHS agreed to participate in a pinnacle plan, which increases the reimbursement fees paid to foster families they have until July 1 to recruit those 500 new foster families.