The Department of Human Services (DHS) is actively recruiting foster parents. Nearly 11,000 children are currently in foster care in Oklahoma. That's up more than 1,000 from last year.
DHS does not have enough people willing to give homes to neglected children, either permanent or temporary. A public service announcement, including a message of encouragement from Gov. Mary Fallin, is working to change that.
"Let me urge you to change a child's lifetime. Become a foster or adoptive parent today," Fallin says in the PSA airing on News 9 and other local television stations.
The encouragement to get involved also comes from Lisa Feist. She's been a foster parent for three years and has learned a few things along the way.
"We just look at the situation when it is brought to us. We know what our boundaries are, as far as what we're able to provide for," Feist said.
In addition to providing temporary homes for countless children, Feist and her husband also adopted 3-year-old Mia and 3- year-old Cannon. Feist called the opportunity rewarding.
DHS needs more families like the Feists. Although the agency has recently recruited a record number of foster families, it is still not enough.
"We are making it easier and faster for people to become foster parents, so we really would like people to come back and give it another try," said DHS Spokesperson, Sheree Powell. "If they have done it before, or if they have never done in it…this is the time. We need you."
The agency acknowledges prior criticism of DHS could have caused some potential foster parents to shy away from the opportunity to get involved, but Powell says improvements have been and are being made.
"If this is something that is on your heart then we want you to come and start the process," Powell said.
DHS is also promoting the need for more child welfare workers. The agency recently recruited 600 workers, but more workers are needed.
Feist is inviting the public to join in her efforts to make sure every child in Foster care gets a gift this Holiday Season. There will be almost 11,000 children in foster care in the state of Oklahoma during Christmas this year. Your kindness and contribution can bring hope to the many caregivers in this child's life.
Go to www.OkFosterWishes.com to request a wish list from an Oklahoma child in foster care. The Christmas drive will launch on Nov. 22. OKDHS needs all gifts at a drop location and ready for pickup by Dec. 15.