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WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Recently, regional child advocacy groups have been forced to turn away large numbers of foster kids in need as more and more children join the thousands of kids in Texas’ foster care system.

Imploring Wichita Falls area adults and families to serve this vulnerable population, A World For Children advocacy group officials said they’re tackling common fostering myths to lower these numbers.

“They want love. They want a safe environment,” Director Ashley Almanza said.

It’s a goal Almanza said she’s had since she was a kid: Advocating for foster kids.

The World For Children director has hit recent struggles, turning away nearly 50 kids due to a lack of willing fosters.

“It’s very hard when we have to say no to a placement and say, ‘We don’t have a home’, because it’s our heart and the goal of our community to keep these kids in our community,” Almanza said. “If we’re able to say yes and keep them local, that’s one less trauma that they have to experience.”

The nonprofit director said they struggle to find homes for sibling groups and teens 12 years and older. In December 2023, the group had to turn away 26 kids aged 12 years and older, along with 22 sibling groups who went unplaced in local homes.

“Maybe [the] siblings that had four, then we can’t have them all together. But, in teenagers, people are terrified of teenagers,” foster care navigator Tamara Booher said.

A struggle Booher and Almanza know well.

Common misconceptions people have not being able to provide a foster home include:

  • Being single
  • Living in an apartment
  • Teens/siblings
  • Being too young/not having experience
  • Already having kids

“We train you, we give you tools, we equip you. So, we don’t expect you coming in to know how to do it already,” Almanza said. “Just busting those myths because people have a misconception of what they can and can’t do.”

It can be an extensive process, but both Almanza and Booher said it’s rewarding in the end.

“These kids need it, and they need the stability,” Booher said. “They need the love.”

Passionately championing for the children’s wellbeing, the two urged the community to learn more about the fostering process.

“We are turning away placements at a high number,” Almanza said. “And, we really, really, really need the community to step up and take care of their own.”

Calling on the community to help kids in need.