Concord — When a judge signs off to remove children from an unsafe home, the child protection agency often turns to foster parents for support.
But the state is currently facing a shortage of foster families, meaning at times children have to be placed in towns far from their own communities, schools and support networks, according to advocates.
“We have had cases where kids from Berlin are placed in Nashua,” said Marcia Sink, president of CASA of New Hampshire, which advocates for abused and neglected children during the court process.
Advocates say applying to be a foster parent, volunteering as a CASA advocate, or signing up with a youth mentoring program can help the state’s overburdened child protection service.
The state is especially short of foster families willing to take older, middle- and high-school aged youths, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Roughly 800 children need foster care each year, but there aren’t enough licensed parents to accommodate them, according to Child and Family Services.
As the number of child abuse and neglect reports rise, CASA is trying to recruit enough volunteers to cover the cases, Sink said. “It’s a challenge to keep up,” she said. The volunteers advocate on behalf of children in abuse and neglect proceedings, making recommendations to the judge.
To learn more about becoming a foster or adoptive family in New Hampshire or becoming a mentor for New Hampshire youths, visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dcyf/adoption or call 603-271-9290.
For information about volunteering with CASA, visit casanh.org/how-you-can-help/volunteer.