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Southern Indiana foster agency needs families 'willing to foster them, support them, love them, welcome them into their home'

Licensed foster care workers say dozens of referrals come in daily, but there aren't enough foster parents to help fulfill the need.

SCOTTSBURG, Ind. — Foster agencies across southern Indiana said there is a major need for foster parents and families to help take in children.

The National Youth Advocate Program (NYAP) is one of these agencies who are working to get foster kids placed in loving homes.

Around 13,000 kids are in foster care in Indiana and there are over 8,000 in Kentucky.

"We're always seeing a need for more foster families, we ultimately just have more kids in foster care than we have homes for," Terrilynn Durnal, a licensing specialist for NYAP, said.

She said dozens of referrals come in a day, but there aren't enough foster parents.

"The hardest part of my job is knowing that I'm just clicking delete on referrals because I simply just do not have enough homes to put those kids in," Durnal said.

Heather Barry, a southern Indiana teacher, and her husband have stepped up to the plate.

"We are now currently two years in and we have had 23 kids in our homes," Barry said.

The couple began fostering during the pandemic, something she felt ready to do being a teacher herself.

"I think it's helped me both be their foster parent, but also their teacher. And so it has really changed my life altogether," Barry said.

Barry originally set out to only foster infants, but soon realized there was a greater need, something Durnal echoes.

Credit: Heather Barry

"We are eagerly trying to license foster homes that can handle sibling groups of two, three, four, five or six, and then any homes that could offer a place for a teenager," Durnal said.

She said they want to make sure all kids feel supported, so it's important these parents reflect that sentiment.

"We have racially diverse children in care, we have children who are LGBTQ+ in care, and we need homes that are willing to foster them, support them, love them, welcome them into their home," Durnal said.

Barry said to work with an agency like NYAP has made a world of difference for her.

"DCS is overwhelmed with everything they have to do. So this gives you somebody who's there with you getting to know you, helping you," she said.

Both are now working to break down stigmas when it comes to older kids and making sure no matter what, they will find loving homes for them.

One of the biggest things Durnal pointed out is how much the pandemic has affected the system. With finances becoming much tighter during COVID, many kids have been left without a stable environment.

She said she wants foster parents to know should they want to register, NYAP will work to make sure it poses no financial burden on them.

WHAS11 News reached out to Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services. They said Kentucky, like many states, are also experiencing these same issues.

For more information on how to register to become a foster parent and the requirements, click here.

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