Community leaders address foster care needs in Chippewa Co.

Chippewa Falls (WQOW) — A side effect of the drug crisis in Wisconsin is the growing number of children being put into foster care, and there’s not always enough homes to house them.

Chippewa County community leaders came together Tuesday to discuss how they can address the ever-growing need for foster families.

Kari Kerber, the Chippewa County Children and Families Supervisor, told News 18 the county has had to reach out to other regions to help with fostering children.

"When we can’t find a foster home that will match with the need of the child that we have, whether it’s behavioral or emotional or developmental or cognitive delay, we actually have to reach out to the western region, and that goes as far south as La Crosse all the way up to Superior and Ashland," Kerber said. "If we can’t find one in that region, then we actually reach out to the entire state for a foster home that can meet that child’s needs."

The push to find solutions for this growing problem isn’t specifically an initiative from the Chippewa Falls School District, but Superintendent Heidi Eliopoulos said school staff can tell when students are struggling.

"When a child experiences trauma, it does impact them at school, and impacts their mental and emotional health, it impacts their ability to concentrate on their learning," Eliopoulos said.

Anyone interested in fostering, volunteering, mentoring or donating to the foster care cause, is invited to attend another meeting at the Chippewa Falls Middle School on September 27. The goal will be to create at least 10 new foster families, 10 new respite families, and 20 new volunteer or donation connections by March 1, 2019.

"I believe in Chippewa Falls, I believe in Chippewa County and the power of our community, and I believe when we all come together and each do a bit, we’ll be able to take this on together. A lot of people, a lot of help is needed," Eliopoulos said.

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