TRI-CITIES, Wash. — There are children in our community with nowhere to call home. Children whose homes aren’t safe for them–foster children.
Local agency Service Alternatives said there are about 10-thousand foster kids in the state, and there aren’t enough homes to place them.
On a quiet street in Burbank, sits the home of foster parent Delna Nixon.
From the birds singing to each other in the front room, to plants blooming in the garden out back, Nixon has tried to make her home a haven.
“Safe is the right word,” Nixon said. “Sanctuary is the word I like.”
A safe place not just for her, but for her foster children.
“I try to provide a sanctuary for them to heal,” she said. “They need to heal from what’s happened to them.”
Nixon said she’s had to do some healing of her own.
“I had a very rough childhood myself,” she said. “And I remember the people that reached out to me and helped me. I want to provide that for someone else.”
Through the years, nearly a dozen children and teenagers found their sanctuary at Nixon’s home.
“There’s not one that I haven’t loved,” she said. “There are some that are so hard. They’re so damaged. You love them the most because they need it the most.”
Those children were lucky. If you’re a foster kid in Washington, you’re lucky to have a home at all.
Employees at Service Alternatives said they’re so short on homes to send children, they’re placing some in hotels.
“It shouldn’t be happening, but it is,” said Bobbi Clawdus, area manager of licensing. “There’s not a ceiling, because we’ve never hit it. We’ve never had enough homes to serve the children.”
Clawdus said they get four to five new children needing homes every week.
“They deserve a safe and stable environment where there isn’t chaos,” she said. “And there isn’t a question of where their next meal is coming from.”
She said fear holds people back from signing up as foster parents.
“I meet with 10 people, and maybe two people really commit to doing it,” said Kim Northrop, foster care licenser.
The team at Service Alternatives said they hope once people realize the need, they’ll step up.
“The need is there,” Nixon said. “It’s so serious. These are our children, and they need a place to be. They need to have a home.”
Delna Nixon opened her home—a refuge for those with nowhere else to go.
Getting licensed to become a foster parent is free, and there are several local agencies that will walk you through. You just need to be 21, pass a criminal background check, and have a valid driver’s license to qualify.
For more information, click here, or call (509) 783-0758.