"There's too many kids, and not enough workers."
That's the assessment of one foster care mother in Douglas County who at any one time may have the two foster children that she and her husband are licensed to keep, two others they care for under an exception in their license, and sometimes additional children coming out of the juvenile court system and placed in their home on an emergency basis for two or three nights.
That's in addition to the five children Madalon and James Vann have of their own.
But Madalon Vann is quick to defend Department of Social and Rehabilitation caseworkers and social workers.
"IT'S NOT the people, it's the bureaucracy," she said. "They're overworked, overloaded and sometimes the system is triplicated.
"It's hard to get through it, and it's hard to get kids through it."
Another Douglas County foster parent, Burch Higgins, said one solution for foster parents who become overwhelmed by the number of children they are asked to care for is to learn to say no.
Higgins, who has been a foster parent for 31 years and who cares for younger, handicapped children, said it took her a long time to learn that.
"That's important for younger foster parents to know," she said. "They (SRS) may call you again, but they don't plague you."
Vann also offered a solution.
She said SRS should limit the length of time that foster children could stay in a foster family to 18 months.
"USUALLY WE have kids anywhere from 18 months to three years," she said. Although she said teen-age foster children in general don't "bond" with their foster family, younger foster children cannot help but become connected.
"It's like your own child," she said. "Parting is not only difficult on foster families, but also on the child."