Keeping Foster Children Safe
But, the department's Children's Division is trying to to reduce that number even more.
"I realized that was what I wanted to do," said foster parent Michelle Hilbert. "That was my passion, to help families be strong."
Hilbert's family has cared for 30 foster children in the past six years, after receiving their state license.
"That licensing processs is pretty comprehensive," explained Deborah Scott of DSS. "It includes an application, reference checks, background checks that include fingerprinting."
But the recent beating of a two-year-old by her foster parent led the Children's Division to change some procedures. Case workers visit families once every two years for license renewal, but they will start visiting foster homes every quarter by the end of this year. The division also may ask for information from foster parents' doctors, send reports electronically, and provide a guide to lead discussions between case workers and foster parents to try to improve the overall process.
"I think, to us, the training wasn't so difficult. It just exposed us to some things we weren't expecting," said Hilbert. "The licensing process, it's not hard at all. I don't think that's a nusience. I think it's good to investigate who's going to be taking care of these children."
The Department of Social Services said more home visits should not affect slow down the state's licensing procedure.