Concern over decrease in licensed foster care homesFargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Cass County social service officials call it a concerning trend. The number of licensed foster care homes in Cass County is taking a steady downturn, and officials say children could be at risk in the long run if it continues.
It's a typical night at Nano's House. Fresh baked peanut butter and marshmallow cookies and perfectly baked cake.
"Try to get my evening meal together before the kids come home."
SISTER JAN IHLI/EMERGENCY FOSTER CARE PROVIDER: "I'm from a family of 13 and I was the oldest girl, the second oldest child, so I've got lots of practice in just nurturing and taking care of children."
But it's not your typical devout nun's home: Sister Jan Ihli's is filled with needy children. With about five at a time, 168 have come through here over the last four years. It's an emergency shelter for foster kids.
SISTER IHLI: "Sometimes they're just overnight, it depends on what the situation is."
But vital shelters like Sister Jan's, where kids have stayed anywhere up to four months, are disappearing.
ROSE VAUDRIN/CASS COUNTY SOCIAL SERVICES: "I lose an average of 27 homes a year and I've lost an average of that since I've been here in 2005. So that means I have to license at least 27 homes just to stay even."
Right now, there are 64 foster homes, emergency and long term, in Cass County. That's down from 83 in 2006.
ROSE: "We haven't been able to stay ahead, so my concern is that if we keep losing homes that we won't be able to meet the needs of children coming in."
And if there aren't enough homes for these children, then they have to come here and stay at Cass County social services and officials say that is a last resort. A resort they've never had to come to, yet because of welcoming homes, like Nano's.
"And a lot of the children when they come will call address me as Grandma because obviously I look like one."
So that no child has to be left without love, something this house will continue to give, freely. Right now, there are 239 children in foster care in Cass County.