WABASH VALLEY, Ind. (WAWV/WTWO) – Local foster care agencies are calling for more residents to open up their hearts and homes to children in need.

According to the Indiana Department of Child Services 1,343 children were in foster care as of April 1st. Vigo County saw 336 of those children, and local agencies believe the current number of foster homes available do not keep up with the continuous need.

Debra Corn Foster Care Executive Director Johnda Barnett said the agency received 563 referrals in the month of March. Between the two local locations 62 foster homes are available.

“That number is astronomical and very disheartening,” Barnett said.

Terre Haute Villages Foster Therapeutic Case Manager Mandi Jeffries said they are seeing a similar need.

“Out of all the foster homes we have opened and licensed right now, we only have one opening,” Jeffries said. ‘Obviously the amount of kids who need a home is more than one.”

In 2021 Villages Foster Care locations statewide had more than 5,000 children referred that they were not able to home because of the lack of fosters.

Both organizations have seen the interest to foster a children drop throughout the pandemic.

“Fear for one’s own health and fear for others health, has certainly been a contributing factor,” Barnett said.

“There’s defiantly far more calls that DCS is looking for placement,” Jeffries said.

Despite the shortage 80% of the children served by the Villages Terre Haute, were to stay within their community.

“We do everything that we can to keep the kids where they are and disrupt them as little as possible,” Jeffries said.

Both organization encourage the Wabash Valley to pick up the phone and call local agencies to learn about the need, even if they choose not to foster.

“You can make a difference,” Barnett said.

Villages Foster Care locations statewide will have virtual foster care training sessions April 25th and April 28th.

For upcoming foster outreaches with Debra Corn Foster you can visit their website.