SPOKANE, Wash. — As the Washington state foster care crisis continues, new data suggests it is only getting worse.
InvestigateWest, a watchdog nonprofit based out of Seattle, reported that nearly 200 Washington foster kids spent over 1,000 nights in hotels and state offices over the last year. That is a higher number than ever before.
Spokane foster parent Stacey Conner has been fostering children for about six years now.
She has three biological children, two adopted children and is currently housing one foster child.
Conner said the number of kids coming into the foster system is increasing and the number of good, stable and available homes are either staying steady or decreasing.
The fact that many of these children are having to find alternative places to stay, is something she said only adds to the anxiety many of these kids are already facing.
"To spend the night in a hotel room instead of with a family, maybe some other children who can help normalize the situation, that is really traumatic for these kids," Conner said. "If every family who had security and an extra bed in their home would take just one kid, get licensed and do it just one time, we could solve this problem."
Rachel Luttrull has been a foster mom for about three years and she said housing a foster child is a huge commitment.
"The thing is your life will change, it will change drastically but it will change for the better and we've had 24 kiddos now and I can't imagine my life being any different, I can't imagine my life without foster care," Luttrull said.
According to InvestigateWest, the state is shipping more and more foster kids with mental health issues out of the state and far away from relatives because there are not enough foster parents available.
However, adopting any child from the foster system opens up room in homes that are equipped to house foster kids who need mental health care, Conner said.
If you are interested learning more about becoming a foster parent, you can contact Fostering Washington at 1.877.620.5748.