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More people interested in becoming foster parents, but there's still a need

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A West Michigan-based child services agency says there’s been an increase in people looking to become foster parents. Bethany Christian Services is based in Grand Rapids, but places foster children throughout the U.S. It has seen a 55% increase in people attending foster care informational meetings from April through June compared to January through March of this year.

Despite the increased interest, there is still a need for foster parents.

“That has not changed,” says Jennifer Reister, a Bethany Christian Services foster care licensing supervisor for the Grand Rapids area. “I mean, even though we’ve seen an increase in families and people going through the licensing process, we still are in need of homes for teenagers.”

Reister says there’s also a need for foster parents who can handle children with medical needs.

She adds that foster parenting, like all parenting, has become a little more challenging since the pandemic.

“You know, usually kids are in school and now with so many kids at home having to learn virtually, that is kind of creating an extra challenge for our foster parents,” Reister says.

Because of that, she says Bethany Christian Services is also looking for foster parents who have more flexibility and support for kids at home.

The agency has been holding virtual informational meetings for potential foster care parents online since the pandemic began. You can find more info on Bethany’s Facebook page.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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