CHARLOTTE COUNTY — Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell is advocating for a new bill that would expand the places where foster children can be placed.
The CHILD Act (H.R. 8443) would allow Federal funding for the Florida Sheriff’s Ranches to accept foster children. Sheriff Prummell said the need for foster homes has only grown during the pandemic.
We also spoke with a woman who has fostered dozens of children who says she's experienced that need first hand.
Lourdes Otero has been a foster parent for years and on Thursday, she adopted two of those foster children into her home.
But during a pandemic it was a little different.
“The other adoptions, we were all in front of a judge, we all did the court, and this one we had to sit in a TV," said Otero.
But Otero said COVID-19 hasn’t just changed how children are adopted. It’s driven the need for foster parents through the roof.
“I’ve gotten calls at all hours. Can you please, can you please just have them stay for the night until we can get them another home," said Otero.
Sheriff Prummell said his deputies often have to deal with tough decisions when putting children into foster care.
“They’re being removed from homes, and there’s stories of them being stuck in motels, being, sleeping in offices, sleeping in cars," said Prummell.
That’s why Prummell is advocating for the CHILD Act. Right now, the Florida Sheriff’s Ranches accept kids who are having trouble with the law or in school, but Prummell said, they could take foster children too.
“We’re trying to get it through so they can put residential cottage-style facilities like ourselves back on Federally-funded and approved treatment facility," said Prummell.
Otero said any option that could find kids a home would be progress, because the need isn’t going away.
"There’s not enough homes here for us to have children, and we might have to, they might have to place them in another county," said Otero.