Opioid crisis creates 'urgent need' for Tennessee foster homes

Published: Sep. 18, 2018 at 4:03 PM EDT
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Tennessee's opioid crisis has created an urgent need for foster homes, according to Youth Villages, an organization that provides emotional, mental and behavioral health solutions for children across the country.

A release from Youth Villages reports that nearly 8,000 children are in foster care but only about 4,000 families are willing to open their homes.

"I've been doing it almost 5 years and I love every minute of it," said Shelly Tallman, who is a foster parent.

The organization blamed the opioid epidemic in Tennessee, a state with the second highest rate of opioid prescriptions in the country, for causing a dramatic rise in the number of children in need of foster homes.

"To stop and look at all these kids, it's not their fault that they're in the system,so why not help them?," said Tallman.

Additionally, Youth Villages pointed to another alarming trend: a 51 percent increase in the amount of parents who lose parental rights coupled with a 56 percent jump in the number of children waiting for adoption.

“Most children are in the foster system because they have been neglected or have parents who suffer from addiction. The number of children in need of foster families is far greater than the number of licensed foster families,” said Aisha Ward, a foster parent recruiter at Youth Villages.

The organization has matched several foster children and families in Tennessee but needs more people willing to open their homes.

"You have to be at least 25 for Youth Villages," said Heather Cropp, who is a foster care trainer for Youth Villages. "You have to have lived in the state of Tennessee for at least 6 months. You could be single, married, we just need willing parents, and we'll train them from there on."

Youth Villages is holding informational sessions to any family open to participating. "Anybody who's ever thought about being a foster family- if you've ever considered it, it will be your best job ever. We can provide all the supports needed. We’ll be your

teacher, your coach, your advocate. We will walk with you and your child every step of the way," Ward said.

Dates: Wednesday, September 19; Wednesday, September 26; Wednesday, October 3

Time: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Location: Youth Villages

9111 Cross Park Drive, Suite E-475

Knoxville, TN 37923

You can learn more about Youth Villages on their website,