LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Jill Michalski fostered 18 kids over the course of 8 years. She dreamed of caring for children 10 years before her husband agreed to it.
"Being a foster parent is hard, but I think that there was way more good than hard, more good than bad," Michalski said.
She later adopted 2 kids and took guardianship of another. Loving homes like hers are desperately needed in the foster care system. In Nebraska, more than 4,000 children are in out-of-home care. Most are in foster homes while others are staying in group homes, shelters and treatment facilities. Nebraska has about 400 children in the foster care system available for adoption.
"Currently we don't have enough foster homes in Nebraska, especially for teenagers and for children and youth that have special needs, particularly behavioral needs," Monika Gross, the Executive Director of the Foster Care Review Office said.
With Roe v. Wade now overturned, Gross admits it could take years before we know of any impact. Still, she worries about finding resources in a system already stretched thin.
"Case workers right now have high caseloads, we have a difficult time recruiting and retaining caseworkers under our current system, so any additional children coming in would put further strain on the system," Gross said.
Foster parents must meet licensing requirements. The process starts with an application and training through an agency. Gross is convinced it only takes a caring adult for a kid to become a successful, productive adult themselves.
"If you can be that caring adult, you can really make a difference in the life of a child," Gross said.
Michalski is convinced becoming a foster parent not only changed her kids' lives, but also her own.
"My children remind me they would not change anything and what they learned about themselves, about the world, the other kids in our home, their families, just everything was so much bigger than my time being a little bit more divided," Michalski said.
To contact the Foster Care Review Office, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on becoming a foster parent, click here.
Michalski also teaches with an agency called Release Inc and teaches a class on foster parenting. The next training is on Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. from Aug. 4 to Oct. 6. Register by emailing email@example.com.