Taylor County foster care crisis, 125 families needed

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Erika Jimenez didn’t have a traditional upbringing. She was in the foster care system and hadn’t had the best luck, but despite her circumstances, she decided to make a change.

Jimenez says, “I grew up in foster care, so I knew that was something I always wanted to do.”

Erika and her husband have been fostering for years. They have two biological children, two adoptive and two more going through the process of adoption, but they didn’t stop there. They have helped foster 28 Big Country kids.

She says, “it is very rewarding to be able to take care of kids and just a little bit of everything. Happiness, frustration, just a little bit of everything. “

Rebel Taylor from big country CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, says there is still a major need for foster families.

“Right now we’re in a little bit of a foster care crisis as far as placements go,” Taylor says. “There’s approximately 600 to 650 children from Taylor county in some stage of foster care.”

As this number continues to grow, this pushes kids out of our community and into unfamiliar environments.

Taylor says, “we have approximately 60% of our kids that are probably placed outside of our current county or region.”

Michael Redden, CEO of New Horizons, a nonprofit that helps with foster care and child placement, says we need more foster families in Taylor county so that the children don’t have to go to other foster homes in different cities.

Redden says, “keeping kids in the community is, in my opinion, one of the most effective things we can do.”

And while Redden emphasizes the importance of keeping kids local, he also stresses the importance of helping older kids in the foster care system.

“We’re looking for families that can take kids specifically families that are willing to take kids 5 years or older,” Redden says.

One of the largest age groups in need of good foster care is teenagers.

In 2019, judge April Propst was appointed Taylor County’s New Child Protective Services Court, which was created in response to CPS removal cases overloading the family court docket.

Judge Propst says, “we also need foster parents who will just stand in the gap while family tries to make the changes, they need for their kids to come back home.”

As the crisis continues to worsen, due to an increase in methamphetamine and abuse, there are different ways to get involved and help, either by fostering or volunteering.

For more information, call new horizons at (325) 437-1852.

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