Foster care system in crisis

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Foster care system in crisis

CREATED Jul. 19, 2012

Reporter:  Jessica Chapin

TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - A foster care crisis is leaving some children homeless.  Child Protective Services says it doesn't have enough homes for Pima County kids, forcing some to sleep in CPS offices.

Casa de los Ninos foster care supervisor Sam Dyer says it's a problem without a quick fix, that's getting worse.

"There's not enough places for the number of kids who are being removed," he said, "We don't have the number of foster homes, shelters or group homes."

Dyer says he knows children have slept at CPS before, but tells 9 On Your Side it's happening more often.

According to CPS, the number of foster homes dropped between 2010 and 2011 from 704 to 688.  The number of kids in need increased.

CPS representative Flora Sotomayor says they're doing all they can.  She says staff members work overtime, staying to take care of children at night.  Some have even bought food or provided entertainment out of their own pockets.  Sometimes, turning an office building into a foster home is unavoidable.

"Given the circumstances that we do not have a place to put them, what other choices do we have?" she said.

CPS explains the numbers with increased drug use in Pima County, economic stress, and population growth.  Dyer says agents are also erring on the side of caution when it comes to removing children from homes, after an increase in child abuse cases and deaths.

Both agencies agree the number one thing they need is more foster homes.  The process takes about 6 months, and requires an application and a family and home evaluation looking at finances, health, background checks and references.  To learn more, click here, or call 1-877-KIDS-NEED-U.