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Nevada Resorting to Casino Hotels as Foster Homes Decline
In an alarming response to a shortage of foster homes for children and teens in northeastern Nevada, officials have resorted to temporarily housing them in casino hotel rooms. Brandy Holbrook, a state social services manager, has been raising awareness about the dire situation, noting that it’s the worst she has witnessed in her 20-year career with Nevada’s Division of Child and Family Services.
The lack of available foster homes has forced the agency to place seven children from rural Nevada counties in casino hotel rooms over an 89-day period that concluded in May. State workers were assigned to watch over the children in a 1-to-1 ratio during these emergency placements, with overtime pay required.
Unfortunately, the foster care crisis is not unique to Elko County. A report on national trends by The Imprint revealed that over half of U.S. states experienced a decline in licensed foster homes from 2021 to 2022. Nevada saw a significant decline of nearly 18%, while South Carolina faced the largest decline at 61%.
Leecia Welch, deputy litigation director for the advocacy group Children’s Rights, emphasizes that many states have resorted to inappropriate placements for children due to the lack of foster homes. Disturbingly, children in North Carolina are being forced to sleep in jails and emergency rooms, prompting state lawmakers to work on a bill to increase funding for the child welfare system. Montana, facing a 23% decline in licensed foster homes, has introduced a state income tax credit of $7,500 for parents who adopt foster children. Meanwhile, in Sacramento County, California, children have been temporarily housed in a former juvenile detention center.
Such placements not only harm the well-being of children but also strain the resources of state welfare departments. Welch warns that continued reliance on these practices deepens the challenges faced by these systems, calling for urgent attention and action to address the underlying issues.