The Children's Shelter in Provo will be closed by the state Division of Child and Family Services Tuesday, and the agency is looking for foster families to take care of children.
Shelter director Paul Curtis said the DCFS eventually will open another facility, but until then, the agency is changing the way it handles crisis situations that involve children.The shelter has joined with the Children's Justice Center to provide instant placement into foster families. This is more efficient than a shelter for both the children and the agencies involved, Curtis said.
Although about 80 percent of the children who go through DCFS return home, the other 20 percent still need long-term help.
"The most needed is shelter care or temporary care for children," said LaRay Brown, western regional director for DCFS. "Children stay anywhere from a day to two weeks until a permanent foster home can be found if necessary."
At the moment, the western region, which covers Utah, Wasatch, Juab and Millard counties, has six foster families licensed for shelter-type fostering. The agency has about 220 other families licensed for other levels of foster care.
"There is always a need for foster care because not all families can take every case," Brown said.
Many couples become foster par-ents because they want to care for a baby they hope to later adopt, said Samantha Collier, DCFS supervisor for foster care services. But only about 4 percent of the children who go through foster care programs are ever placed for adoption.
"Our major need in foster care families is for children who have been abused, teenagers and siblings," Collier said. "A lot of times, we get two or more kids from one family and we don't want to break them up if we don't have to."
Blanchard said that finding a home for teens is the hardest.
"In most cases, adolescents are having enough problems to deal with without having to move into a place where little children are," Blanchard said. "The best place for them is a home where the children are already raised."