Nevada National Guard families, individuals sought to ease statewide foster care shortage
CARSON CITY – The shared characteristics
of supportive parents and successful Nevada Guard Soldiers and Airmen –
reliability, stability, understanding, flexibility, and patience – are a major
reason foster care agencies across the state are encouraging National Guard families
and individuals to consider opening their homes to foster care children this
summer and help ease the state’s shortage of foster care housing.
foster care need strong and supportive caregivers who are willing to work with
biological families and the Department of Family Services to reunite children
with their families,” said Allyson Manumaleuna, the supervisor of Foster Care
Recruitment and Training for Clark County Department of Family Services. “Historically,
military families and individuals have proven to be the type of special people
who provide loving and stable homes to support children.”
Foster care is the temporary care of a
child or children who are unable to reside with their biological families,
often due to safety concerns. Clark and Washoe counties (and the state-monitored
15 “rural” counties including Carson City) temporarily place children into
foster care while family courts review each situation. The time children remain
in foster care can vary from weeks to years, but most often falls within six
months to two years. The overarching goal of child welfare agencies across the
state is to ultimately reunite children with their biological family.
Many Nevada Guard families and individuals
have already – quite unassumingly – displayed incredible support of Nevada’s foster
care programs: Maj. Marissa Sissney has hosted 14 foster care children and
adopted her son who was previously in foster care; Maj. RyanMay Orolfo adopted
her daughter who was initially in her foster care; and former Nevada Army Guard
Staff Sgt. Victor Joecks, now a Las Vegas Review Journal columnist, has
benevolently adopted seven of the foster care children he has hosted.
According to Nevadacurrent.com, the total
number of licensed foster homes in Nevada has decreased from 2,054 in 2018 to 1,184
in 2022 while the number of children in foster care has remained about the same
— 4,712 children were in foster care in 2018 and 4,111 children were in foster
care in 2022, according to the data.
Clark County has an especially urgent need
for foster parents this summer. On any given day in Clark County, there are
about 3,400 children in foster care status. Children with no assigned foster
care families await their foster care placement at Child Haven, the Department
of Family Service campus for children on Pecos Road. Recently, there have been
about 100 children awaiting foster care at the facility. The outlook for the
situation is not improving: In January 2019, there were 683 licensed regular foster
homes in Clark County; in January 2023, there were just 310 homes, according to
the Las Vegas Review Journal.
There is a similar need for foster care
families in Washoe County, said Myra Yeargan, the human services case worker in
the county’s Recruitment and Training office.
“With more than 600 children in the Washoe
County Human Services Agency Foster Care system each day and less than 400
foster families, we are in critical need of more safe and loving homes,” Yeargan
Yeargan said that many Washoe County licensed
foster care families may only care for a relative, which further limits the
number of available families for a child coming into care.
“The shortage of foster care homes is a
national crisis and it’s critical our communities come together to support
youth in care and their families,” Yeargan said. “We are always seeking diverse
people to represent the diverse children and families our agency serves.”
Yeargan noted there are way to support
youth in foster care in addition to housing children. Alternate ways to support
youth in care include the mentorship program and respite care.
The Nevada Division of Child and Family
Services oversees foster care in the 15 counties outside of Clark and Washoe.
The rural counties are also in dire need of foster care homes; there are about
400-450 children in foster care in rural Nevada daily but only about 100
licensed families, down from about 220 before the coronavirus pandemic.
Manumaleuna noted there are some societal misconceptions
about foster care and many individuals who believe they are ineligible to
provide foster care are eligible. Facts concerning foster care include:
care parents can be single, married or in a partnership
can be employed or be stay-at-home parents
care parents can choose the age-range and gender of the child(ren) they aim to
do not have to own a home to provide foster care. (It is recommended the child
has his/her individual bedroom.)
Ideally, economics should not be a
motivator for the provision of foster care. But many people do not realize
foster care families and individuals receive reimbursement funds from the
In Clark County, the reimbursement rate for
foster children up to age 12 recently went from approximately $680 a month to
almost $880. For children 13-18 years old, the rate went from $770 a month to $980
In Washoe County, foster parents are
reimbursed at a daily rate of $44 for children 0-18 years old for the first 90
days and then $33 each day after the initial 90 days of stay. Foster parents
who are caring for children with significant behavioral or medical problems may
be reimbursed at a higher rate. Also, full-time working parents are eligible
for additional childcare reimbursement through The Children’s Cabinet subsidy.
Medicaid usually covers children’s
medical, dental, and psychological needs.
Once prospective parents have met the
initial requirements for foster care, the respective agencies provide foster
care training. In Clark County, there is 3-hour per week, seven-week training
period to prepare parents before the arrival of the foster care child.
The addition of an unknown child to a
household may sound daunting but there is no better way for individuals or
families with the requisite means to support the state’s children and
strengthen the community, said Manumaleuna.
“Foster parenting is about believing and
investing in the future of a child and their biological family,” Manumaleuna said.
“It takes just one person to make a
positive impact on a child and their family,” Yeargan said.
For information on Clark County foster
care, call 702-455-0181 or visit: clarkcountyfostercare.com
For information on the Washoe County foster
care program, call 775-337-4470, or visit haveaheartwashoe.us
To learn about foster care in rural
Nevada, visit: www.ruralnvfostercare.com.