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Foster kids sleeping in DCS office due to lack of foster homes

Published: Jun. 14, 2017 at 5:20 PM EDT
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Tennessee is facing a major foster care crisis. There's a real need for families to open up their homes, especially in Knox county.

The situation is so bad some kids are forced to sleep in state offices.

Chante Hensley fosters seven children and says the need for foster parents is greater than ever. She's had 45 come through her home since January of 2013.

"I have a child with me who would have had to sleep in the DCS office," Hensley said.

The Department of Children's Services said there have been five incidents in East Tennessee since March where foster kids have stayed the night in the DCS office, mainly because they are coming in late at night or needing specialized placements.

DCS said they are having a tough time placing siblings and teenage foster kids. Carren Broadnax with DCS said, "We don't just place kids in open homes, we try to match them in homes so the placement is the best placement option."

Kristin Miller works with KAFCAM, which is an organization that works with DCS to place kids in foster care. She said there were 222 DCS foster homes and 204 private agency homes in Knox County with 800 children currently in care.

Miller said, "We just got a message from DCS saying they are approaching 800, which is the highest it's ever been before."

Chante can't take any more kids in, but urges people out there to think about it because there's a huge need. KAFCAM said they lost 80 DCS foster families in 2016 mostly due to kinship placements or adoptions.

"We have seven and still get calls every few weeks to take in another child," she said.

If you would like to donate, call 877-327-5437. You can also read more on www.tnfosters.gov or www.adoptuskids.org.