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Conference To Tackle Foster-Care Issues

Posted On November 21, 2017

By Veronica Carter, Indiana News Service

Of the 1.5 million children living in the Hoosier State, thousands are in need of foster or adoptive homes.

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – As the number of children in foster care in Indiana continues to increase, the 2017 Because Kids Count conference in downtown Indianapolis will bring experts together next week to discuss the problem.

One of the event’s keynote speakers is intimately connected to the issue. Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent much of her childhood in foster care, and now is a parent to foster children herself. She’s also written two books on the topic and started the Foundation for Sustainable Families.

She said there’s a misconception about who can become a foster parent; it’s not based on wealth, education or age. Rhodes-Courter said it takes patience and understanding, adding that kids just need someone to be a good role model and provide some stability in their lives.

“The true key to resiliency is having that one person in your life to direct you in a positive way,” Rhodes-Courter said. “I was so lucky that I had a few teachers who were amazingly encouraging and gave me really positive vibes. I found school to be such a sanctuary for me.”

Indiana has about 25,000 children in foster care. The Department of Child Services says the problem is intensifying because of the state’s drug epidemic, and the majority of kids are removed from their homes as the result of abuse or neglect.

According to DCS, the average age of a child entering foster care in Indiana is 6-7 years old, and nearly half are not able to be placed with relatives. Rhodes-Courter said kids at that age need to feel like they belong somewhere in order to succeed.

“Having that stability of an adoptive family transformed my life and sort of helped create the platform for the family that I lead today,” she said. “And now I’ve gotten to see what it means to be a stable parent and have this life that I never would have known existed otherwise.”

Next week’s Because Kids Count conference at the Indiana Convention Center is sponsored by the Indiana Youth Institute.

More information is available at KidsCount.org.