KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)- Governor Bill Lee made a statement saying Tennessee’s adoption and foster care system is strong in regard to how Tennessee will support families if Roe v. Wade is overturned. 

Lee said, “There is a way forward to protect the lives of the unborn and to provide support and women going forward. We’ve strengthened our foster care family system and the adoption process in our state. I think that’s the way we take our existing law and support women in the future.”

We checked into the number of children in foster care and the ratio of available foster families. In Tennessee, there are over 9,000 children in the foster care system.

That number is cut in half when it comes to foster families. 

However, there is some good news here as well with changes that have been made to make fostering a little easier.

Youth ​Villages provides mental and behavioral health services for children and families.
Foster Parent Trainer Supervisor Jenna Bailey said, “we ​recruit, and we ​train, and we support foster families and also those who are looking to adopt out of the child welfare system.”

The non-profit works hand in hand with the Department of Children’s Services to help place children in foster care.

Bailey said, “in Knox County that number is about 550. I have been doing this job for two and a half years and it’s truly devastating to see the growth in those numbers.”

Bailey said there are thousands of children in foster care and not enough foster parents to support them,

“I think there are more people coming into foster care for a lot of reasons. I think some of those are larger societal issues. Things like the drug epidemic and even covid 19 you know, harmed the health of caregivers.”
She adds that because of the pandemic, there are new practices in place to help make fostering a little easier,

“Right now, you can get trained virtually, which is a huge gift for people who already have children in their home. They’re not having to coordinate childcare for classes.”

Though the need for foster families is great, Bailey explained that the future looks promising,

“Our offices in East Tennessee have incredible growth. Our foster families are joining our ranks and joining our foster family at YV, and we just hope to support them and provide as many services as we can to keep them.”

According to their annual report, Youth Villages helped 858 children in foster care across the country last year.

Bailey adds, “our kids didn’t ask to be in foster care, and they deserve a loving home and reading them a bedtime story as much as any other kid.”

Bailey said that Youth Villages is always looking for foster families.

They have several different ways you can help including temporary placements, respite care, and through their foster to adopt programs.