INDIANAPOLIS — Being a foster parent is personal for Samantha Bonty. For the last four years, she’s helped more than 14 kids.
“My mom was adopted, and her parents were foster parents, so I grew up with stories of her childhood,” Bonty said. She continued, “It’s less about the kids for me and more about the entire system. If we’re not supporting one another in our community, we’re not all going to survive together in harmony.”
Bonty is one of “The Villages” foster parents. The statewide family services agency says the dire need for foster and adoption families continues.
“We get about 5,000 calls every year from the Department of Child Services (DCS) for referrals for foster care and we were only able to place 321 of those children,” The Villages CEO Shannon Schumacher said about foster care before the abortion legislation took effect.
Schumacher expects to see an uptick in births come the new year.
“We know we have about 80,000 babies born every year, again pre-legislation in Indiana and we know we have about 8,000 terminated pregnancies, so just do the math and we know we’re going to have more babies and more stressed families in need of services,” Schumacher said.
Part of The Villages' preparation ahead of what they expect to be an increase in births and support services is recruiting more foster parents like Bonty. Right now, Schumacher notes 300 kids are placed in 200 homes through the not-for-profit. She’d like to see double the number of foster homes in the near future.
WRTV reporter Nikki DeMentri asked: “Does this make a bad problem worse?”
Schumacher said, “Yes, so the problem on already how to find these generous families that will take on children that are not their own is already difficult.”
Bonty said she worries about what may happen moving forward with the foster care system.
“Honestly it’s terrifying because I already know there are not enough caseworkers. The case workers that are in place they’re stretched thin, which means that they don’t have the amount of time that they need to focus on each individual case and give each family the care that they deserve,” Bonty said.
The software developer by trade is encouraging others to join in becoming a foster parent.
“My family has grown from this and really that’s what one of the biggest benefits is,” Bonty said.
Part of the legislation passed during the special session awarded $45 million to the newly created ‘Hoosier Family First Fund.’ The idea is use the money towards programs to support expecting mothers including in foster care services. Schumacher feels more is needed.
“There aren’t enough resources. There isn’t enough money. We know this. We know the same people who voted the legislation are also the same people who can give more resources to the problem,” Schumacher said.
The Villages CEO wants to see additional resources and funding from the state with a focus on mental health, housing and childcare support moving forward.
“Indiana is well positioned and has the heart to really be a leader in this space in supporting pregnant women and supporting mothers and families with newborns,” Schumacher said.
The Villages pledges to continue working with state leaders to push for more resources and funding. Until then, it will continue preparing by increasing recruiting efforts for foster parents, adoptive families, while boosting supportive services for expecting and new mothers.
“If we can get more funding, more support in place if something can change to remedy that issue that’s already happening even prior to this abortion law going into effect, something is going to have to change,” Bonty said.
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