BARSTOW • Of the more than 100 Barstow children placed in foster care in 2011, more than half were sent to live in homes in Victorville as officials report a shortage of Barstow foster parents.
Though hundreds of volunteers sign up to be foster parents, most are from the Victor Valley, leaving fewer local placement options for Barstow foster children, said Sheena Delgado with the Greater Hope Foundation — a nonprofit agency that finds foster homes for displaced children.
Only 40 Barstow foster children were placed in a local home in 2011, Delgado said. For the other 60 percent, the move to another city can be especially hard as they deal with the stress of being taken from their home and adapt to a new family, Delgado said.
"It's a big difference moving from Barstow to Victorville," Delgado said. "I mean, it's still the High Desert but it's different. And moving to a new school district ... it does become difficult for them."
As May is National Foster Care Month, the Greater Hope Foundation is seeking to spread awareness of the need for foster parents in their city, Delgado said. She and other co-workers have been passing out fliers at the grocery story, talking to folks in line — anything to let people know they need foster parents.
"I don't think they know we're here," Delgado said. "Everyone knows what March of Dimes is. Everyone knows about the chili cook-off or Relay for Life. It's great that people know about those things, but nobody knows what we do here. It's appalling."
She said if more people knew about the need for foster parents or what it's actually about, more would train to be foster parents.
"It's not difficult," Delgado said. "It's a process just like anything, but your end result is just rewarding to see those children grow and making an impact in their lives."
Foster mom Teresa said watching her foster daughter feel secure in her home is the most rewarding part. Teresa, whose last name is being withheld for safety reasons, took in her foster daughter a year ago, joining her other two children to make a full home.
"We had the room not only in our home, but in our heart for her," Teresa said. "I don't look at her as a foster kid — she's a part of my family."
Greater Hope Foundation was started in Barstow in 2002 to meet the needs of foster children in the area. They are the only foster placement agency in Barstow, Delgado said.