Mahoning County Children Services desperately in need of foster parents

An information session will be Saturday, Oct. 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Austintown Library

Mahoning County Children Services announced it is closing two group homes and laying off employees.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The need for foster families around the Mahoning Valley is a growing, so Mahoning County Children Services decided it should hold an informational event for those looking to foster a child.

If you have ever thought about being a foster parent, now is the time because Children Services needs double the foster families that are currently available.

The information session will be Saturday, Oct. 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Austintown Library, located at 600 S. Raccoon Road. Although the event is free, space is limited so registration is required.

“With the opiate epidemic, we are seeing an increase in children who are coming into care because of addiction issues with family members — we’re seeing more drug-exposed babies. So, there is a definite and great need, and right now we only have 41 licensed foster families for Mahoning County and we need about 30 to 35 more,” said Jennifer Kollar, Children Services’ public information officer.

At any given time, Children Services has 150-170 children in foster care. Currently, they are in need of licensed foster homes, especially ones that can accommodate sibling groups or emergency placements.

To be a foster parent, the agency will take a look at your income to make sure you are financially stable on your own before taking in a foster child.

Then they take a look at your background to see if any red flags come up, like prior convictions or child welfare issues.

“So, there’s a lot of different things, but we have a team in place that answers those questions, works with people that are interested in becoming foster parents every step of the way,” Kollar said.

At Saturday’s session, everyone in attendance will be taken through the entire child welfare process, to see how it works. They will also discuss how a child may end up in foster care and what you have to go through to become a foster parent.

“We will have our staff in place, ready to answer those questions. We’ll have foster parents that are already licensed being able to talk about their experience and also answer questions from those in attendance,” Kollar said.

To learn more about the event or to register, contact Mahoning County Children Services at (330)941-8888 or http://www.mahoningkids.com/.

Lunch will be provided.

The Austintown Library is not sponsoring or participating in the event.

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