LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- As the holiday season approaches, kids in the foster care system are finding this time particularly challenging. Unfortunately, it's these times that kids need homes more than ever. One foster-care agency in Lafayette is working to help.
National Youth Advocate Program Lafayette-branch leaders are hoping to bring awareness to the importance of fostering. While the number of kids needing homes stays consistent every month. The number of homes available tends to decrease around November - December months.
"We don't want our children sleeping in DCS offices or juvenile detention centers just because we don't have enough foster families," said Rhyannon Shuck, licensing coordinator for NYAP Lafayette.
Shuck and Samantha O'Neal, who works as the program manager for NYAP Lafayette, say this is a big concern. They say the holiday time can be tough.
"Families already have plans for the holidays and they don't want to make the commitment of taking in a foster child when they're planning on leaving their homes for the holidays," said Shuck.
She said potential foster-parents also tend to worry about the added financial stress this holiday season can bring. NYAP wants to break the misconceptions surrounding taking in foster kids during the holidays.
"What a lot of people who consider being foster parents don't know is that we can help with those situations," said Shuck.
The organization provides training, 24/7 on-call services, financial support for foster parents, and Christmas gifts for foster kids. O'Neal said sibling groups, teens, and college-aged individuals in the foster care system are among the hardest to place during this season.
"Everyone thinks that teenagers are so scary but that's not the case at all," said O'Neal. "There are kids that are 18 plus still within the system and they are receiving services through DSC and the state so that they can go to college but with Covid and as college is coming to Christmas break, fall break, Thanksgiving break that we have more kiddos that don't necessarily have a place to call home."
NYAP works with the goal of getting youth reunited with their parents and guardians while providing a safe place in the meantime.
"Holiday's can be very triggering for kids. It brings up a lot of emotions, a lot of trauma so trying to get more homes is really big for us," said O'Neal.
NYAP opened its facility in September, The Lafayette branch reaches families in Tippecanoe and surrounding counties. Finding families in the more rural counties is their biggest concern as they don't want to take kids away from friends and out of their school system. Click to learn how to become a foster parent or to help provide toys for foster kids this season.