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Critical time for foster family licensing prior to holiday season

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The holiday season sees the highest need for foster families because advocates want to get as many children placed with families to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Keegan Coomer, a former foster child, said, “In foster care, I always felt a little more of a sense of cheerfulness around the holidays.”

It takes from 30-60 days to get a foster license in Indiana, so groups like the National Youth Advocate Program are working to get as many new families ready to take in as many kids as possible.

“Sometimes we can see 100 referrals a week for children that need homes. A lot of the time, children are in shelters or possibly in group homes, and we are trying our best to get them out of those places, out of those facilities and into a loving family environment. So, that’s why we see a huge need over the holiday season. If you were to get licensed now, we could have you licensed by Thanksgiving,” said Terrilynn Durnal, recruitment team leader for the National Youth Advocate Program.

Durnal says it is often difficult to place teens and sibling groups because many are only willing to take small children, so they are looking for families ready for this.

“I think overall there’s just a stigma attached to fostering teenagers, like it’s going to be really hard,” Durnal said. “I don’t think people realize how fun teenagers can be.”

Heather Barry says she went into fostering parenting to only care for infants but, after taking teens and sibling groups, she decided that was her calling to provide the structure teens need.

“You can relate to them. You can have a whole different experience with a teenager than with a little baby,” she said. “So, it was something I didn’t expect but it turned out to be something I enjoyed and we are more open to now than actually taking infants. We don’t want to do infants anymore.”

Coomer and her siblings were split up in the system. She says, while she ultimately got what she needed from her foster family, not having your biological family can be difficult.

“It was heartbreaking. I love my brother and sister,” Coomer said. “Sometimes, with a lot of foster children, they only have their siblings. They don’t see their mom and dad, or they don’t have good relationships with their parents but they do with their brothers and sisters.”

If you are interested in learning more about fostering in Indiana the National Youth Advocate Program has more information here.