The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services is desperately seeking some good homes looking to make a difference.
Humboldt County has nearly double the state rate of children in foster care —1.2 percent of children ages 0-17 compared to .68 percent statewide, according to Kidsdata.org — and the high rates have been stretching the system. While there’s no single factor that explains why our local rates are so high, officials say it’s not a surprise given Humboldt’s preponderance of substance abuse and poverty.
DHHS is looking for foster homes for kids of all ages, but the department is especially in need of people willing to take in teenagers.
“Older kids coming into care can be just as scared and shut down as the little ones,” said Michele Stephens, deputy director of Child Welfare Services for DHHS, in a statement emailed to the Journal. “They’ve experienced some form of trauma and as a result sometimes act out as a way of coping. We need caregivers who understand this and are willing to provide safe and supportive homes for teens.”
Helping young people transition into adulthood is another role foster parents can play, Stephens added. “Youth in foster care don’t often have the opportunities to learn basic life skills other kids are taught at home — how to balance a checkbook, find an apartment, apply to college, find a job,” he said.
DHHS is looking for caregivers who can teach these skills in a home setting and in an effort to stir up more interest in fostering, the department recently hired Malcolm DeSoto and his Runaway Kite film company to create the eight-minute documentary embedded above. Be warned, watching it may make you want to immediately foster 17 children.