Shortage of foster parents on the Central Coast - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Shortage of foster parents on the Central Coast

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Matt Pennon with the two children he adopted after fostering them. (KSBY photo) Matt Pennon with the two children he adopted after fostering them. (KSBY photo)

San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County officials say the shortage of foster parents is at an all-time high and they need your help.  

Social workers say there are more than 800 kids living with relatives, in group homes, and in foster homes on the Central Coast, and more than 250 kids are in need of permanent homes. 

Often, children in foster care, through no fault of their own, had to be removed from their families due to abusive or neglectful situations. The goal of foster families is to eventually reunite those kids with their biological parents.  

Santa Barbara County says it needs help.

"There is a shortage. We have a need for families who are willing to open their homes to basically garden variety kids, young people who might have extra baggage due to their background," said Gustavo Prado, "Our County, Our Kids" Coordinator.

Prado says becoming a foster parent takes about four months and includes training, background checks, house checks, and administrative work.

Matt Pennon and his husband have fostered five children and are pushing for others to do so, too. They say even one family stepping forward can make a huge difference.

"There are kids in our county that didn't have a choice in what happened to them and the need to have a loving stable home for these kiddos is there," said Pennon.

Social workers say they need extra help placing siblings together, as well as bringing kids back to the community who were placed outside of the Central Coast.

"Our children need families that have just a little room in their home and a whole lot of heart, whole lot of readiness to be loved," said Prado.

"They may think somebody else is going to help fulfill that need, but what we need in Santa Barbara County is all of the community members to step up to the plate, whether it be becoming a resource parent and taking a child into their home, whether it be becoming a volunteer or a mentor or whether it be helping spread the word," said Pennon, who has now adopted two of the children he fostered.

Cost of living often deters families from getting involved, but foster parents do receive some money to cover the cost of food and clothing. Medicaid also covers medical, dental and counseling services for foster kids.

For information on how to become a foster parent in Santa Barbara County, click here.

For information on how to become a foster parent in San Luis Obispo County, click here.

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