Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services is closing its emergency children's shelter in Oklahoma City and has managed to find foster homes for all but one child.
The 7-year-old boy still lives at the shelter, but he is the only child roaming the halls and his is the only bed.
DHS is keeping the doors to the shelter open until they find Michael a foster family.
Michael loves gadgets.
“He loves playdough, he likes to figure out how things work, very intelligent,” said LaRhonda Pennon who works at the Pauline E. Mayer Shelter.
Michael is high-functioning autistic, loves affection and does not realize he is the last child left at the shelter.
“It's sad, I'm going to be honest, it's very sad to know that we are only open for him,” Pennon told News 9.
As part of its overall reform, DHS is closing this emergency children's shelter and one in Tulsa.
The Oklahoma City shelter stopped accepting new children a while back and started finding foster homes for the kids they had, except Michael.
For the past three weeks, he has slept in the one bed left and the last few toys are out for him, sitting next to boxes packed up to be moved out.
Michael’s situation highlights DHS’ need for more foster families who are willing to give a home to children with special needs.
“Just try, you never know, you never know,” Pennon said. “I know just like any other job, it might not be for everybody, but you never know until you try."
That is exactly what Ronda Sloup did.
“Go ahead and jump in, because it's just been such a blessing in our lives,” Sloup told News 9.
Sloup is a DHS foster parent who ended up adopting two special needs foster children who came into her home.
Brayden is autistic and Hannah has some birth defects involving her bones.
“You don't have to be scared to do it, there are services, people are going to be there to help you and really, they are just regular kiddos,” Sloup explained.
DHS provides services and resources, all foster families have to do is provide a loving home.
The Oklahoma City shelter doors will stay open until someone comes for Michael.
“Just because you hear the word autism, don't be scared,” Pennon said. “He could fit in anybody's home."
If you are interested in fostering Michael, call his caseworker, Mason Rogers, at (405) 767-2543.