By ELIZABETH GOLDEN
The need for foster care homes in Ellis County has seen an increase recently.
There are 59 children in care, and 38 of those are living outside Ellis County, according to the Recruitment Needs Report from St. Francis Community Services.
"We have seven homes in Ellis County and, to meet the needs of the children, we need 22 more homes," said Marla Baumann, foster-care home recruiter for St. Francis.
In order to become a licensed foster care provider, homeowners must attend a 10-week training class and ensure the home meets regulations within the state of Kansas.
Roberta Molstad has been a foster-care provider since 2007, and has housed more than 50 children throughout the years.
"I just always loved kids," she said. "Some of the kids stay 72 hours. Others stay permanently."
In cases of short-term care, Molstad doubles as an emergency home provider.
"Emergency homes are licensed foster homes, but may not be able to take a child full-time," Baumann said. "A child stays a couple nights or a weekend until they are able to go to court."
Baumann said most children wind up in foster care due to abuse or neglect.
Molstad has two foster and three adopted children. Her adopted children originally were in foster care.
"Originally, I was just going to foster," she said. "Then I fell in love with it and decided to adopt."
Molstad usually fosters infants and toddlers.
"I usually prefer those 6 and under. I enjoy the medically fragile," she said. "All three of my adopted children are special-needs."
Molstad said she enjoys seeing how resilient the children can be.
"I currently have this little baby," she said. "I can't believe the change in her. At first, they have a flat effect, and after a few weeks, they learn to smile and aren't afraid to come out of their shell. She's happy now and enjoying being loved on."
The hardest part, Molstad said, is letting them go.
"The hardest thing is you never know," she said. "You may have them for two years, and you still don't know if they're going to stay. You kind of have to become a loss expert."
Molstad plans to continue fostering and encourages families to try.
"It's very rewarding," she said. "You get a lot more out of it than the kids do. It's great to be able to give them that brief experience in their life of being loved unconditionally."
For more information on fostering a child, contact Baumann at Marla.Baumann@st-francis.org.