Nevada National Guard families, individuals sought to ease statewide foster care shortage

 Foster Care Information Photo

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.

Children in 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, 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 said.

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:

Foster care parents can be single, married or in a partnership

Parents can be employed or be stay-at-home parents

Foster care parents can choose the age-range and gender of the child(ren) they aim to support

Parents 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 government.

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 a month.

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:

For information on the Washoe County foster care program, call 775-337-4470, or visit 

To learn about foster care in rural Nevada, visit: