Heroin overdoses spark need for more foster parents

Over 1,000 children in need of homes

COVINGTON, Kentucky -- More than 1,100 children in foster care need homes, according to Kat Swope, family development specialist at Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth. 

More foster parents are needed than ever due to the increasing amount of children left without their parents because of recent spikes in heroin overdoses.

"Unfortunately those kids do have to be removed right away and the sad part is there’s not really anywhere to put a lot of those kids,” Swope said. “Some of them end up in shelters.”

With the help of Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the safety and well-being of families, children and communities, Toni Giles, of Covington, has taken in multiple kids over the years.
 
One of her foster children is 19-year-old Nia, who has been in and out of different foster homes and has attended 21 different schools over the years. 
 
Giles said Nia has been with her for two years.

“I feel in love with her the first day she was with me,” Giles said.

For Giles, being a foster parent is about breaking the cycle. 

“These kids are the kids that are going to go out and have more kids, don’t necessarily have parenting skills, never saw an example,” Giles said. “Unfortunately their kids could very well end up in foster care as well, so if we can help stop that cycle for their families then we’ve done that kid justice.”

But Nia said being a foster parent is not an easy task.

“If you’re in it for the check I don’t think you would last as long as a foster parent because it’s too much that goes with it…like comforting,” Nia said. “I’m 19 and I’m scared of the dark, and I leave the light on all the time.”

Giles said any struggle she has encountered has been well worth it.

“She is my kid,” Giles said. “She was sent to me by God so it’s easy to be her mom.”

If you have any interest in becoming a foster parent, you can call Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth in Northern Kentucky at 859-341-9333. They have agencies in Ohio and Indiana as well. 

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