DCF encourages families to become foster homes

Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 10:35 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - This month’s catastrophic flooding threw Vermont’s foster care system a curveball. The Department for Children and Families says the disaster displaced dozens of kids in state custody.

So leaders made a pitch to parents at Wednesday’s Lake Monsters game to sign up as a temporary home base.

“I get emails every single day that we need foster homes and this kid needs an emergent placement,” said Laura Catoe, who is a licensed foster parent.

She says she can’t open her home to any more children, but she urges other families to step up to the plate.

“These kids are homeless, and we need to help them,” she said.

DCF says more than 30 kids were displaced by last week’s disastrous flooding. Kyle Silliman-Smith with DCF says the major disruption also triggered more trauma for children who just settled into their foster homes.

“There were kids who couldn’t get to camp that day, and their routine was scheduled or they didn’t have family time when they usually do so. That there was an impact beyond just the displaced kiddos but also just when there is scary things happening in the world,” Silliman-Smith said.

The Vermont Federal Credit Union teamed up with the Lake Monsters to cover the cost of tickets for all foster families Wednesday night.

“It’s important for these families to find opportunities to connect and bond, and we’re really glad that we’re able to support that,” said Maribeth Spellman of the Vermont Federal Credit Union.

The state reports more than 1,000 kids are in foster care in Vermont. Silliman-Smith says it’s a large number for such a small state.

As a foster parent for seven years, Catoe says it was the best decision she’s ever made.

”You’re not going to go into this without it being hard. That’s just the point like but it’s also rewarding. So I think that’s what you’re going to hear people say: this was hard, but I wouldn’t change it because how can you not change helping another child?” she said.

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a licensed foster home, contact DCF to learn more. The application process includes a few home visits and training.

“Move to make the call to see if it’s right for that or if there’s another way that they can support foster families” said Silliman-Smith.