Hundreds of children in Cuyahoga County are in need of a foster or permanent home

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The need for families for older teens in Cuyahoga County's foster care system is significant currently, according to Beverly Torres with the Division of Children and Family Services. [zimmytws / Shutterstock]

Cuyahoga County is asking members of the community to consider being an adoptive or foster parent to youth looking for a permanent home. 

More than 800 kids currently in the county’s foster care system are seeking adoptive parents, meaning their birth parents’ legal rights have been terminated 

Half of those kids don’t have an identified family member, according to Beverly Torres who oversees Permanency Support Services for the Division of Children and Family Services.

“Many of those kids are older teens who need a permanent family before they age out of the system.  And so, the need for foster and adoptive families for older teens is very significant right now,” Torres said. “Our goal really is to not allow them to age out of the foster care system without a permanent forever family.”

While all their kids need loving homes – both permanent and temporary, Torres said, there’s also an urgent need to place LGBTQ kids, Black boys and large groups of siblings who would do better in a home together.

Individuals considering becoming an adoptive or foster parent need to be flexible and loving, Torres said, adding that all the children who go through their agency have experienced the trauma of being separated from their family.

“They're trying to figure out who they are in life. And so a family just really needs to meet a child where they're at, have patience and try to understand where they're coming from and help them be a positive influence in their life,” Torres said.

Too often, people place judgments on teenagers in the foster care systerm, “putting them in certain categories,” according to Zelma Brown, a foster parent recruiter for the nonprofit organization SAFY (Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth) of Cleveland.

“We also need mentors, people who can be a community of support for, particularly, young people who age out of foster care,” Brown said. “Because you and I both know nobody is ready for the world at 18, not 20, not 21.”

Cuyahoga County has information about becoming an adoptive or foster parent on its website and its recruitment Line: (216) 881-5775.

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