Shoes line up in hope of more funding

Thursday, May 8th 2008, 8:43 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

Thousands of children live in foster care in Oklahoma, and thousands more still need homes.

Some children living in foster homes know the system isn't perfect, but once they do get parents, it makes it all worth it.

"I look a lot different, and people see that," foster child Sunny Freeman said. "They think it's weird I call her mom, but I don't think anything different. I look at her like she gave birth to me."

Last Tuesday, on the south steps of the State Capitol, more than 12,000 pairs of shoes were displayed, representing a foster care child who's been helped in Oklahoma.

Lana Freeman, Executing Vice President of the Foster Care Association of Oklahoma, said the state is doing better at placing children in foster homes than other states with the same demand.

The shoes are a signal for lawmakers. There are children who are being helped, but there are still many more who still need homes.

"The system is overloaded. We have children setting in shelters for months and months at a time with no place to go," Freeman said. "We have babies put in shelters because there are no foster homes available."

Foster care parents have asked for more funding, an increase of at least 25 percent, from the state. Currently, a parent with a foster care child under six-years-old gets $300 each month, a dollar amount that hasn't changed in years.

Some parents know, in spite of the lack of funding, they're making a difference.

"Most of our children are productive citizens now. They're all aged out, and they're all in the work force," Weidenmaier said. "We've broken the cycle 38 times, I feel like."

Parents said, the children just need a bit of nurturing and love.