Background Checks Delay Foster Care Placement
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. A Western Slope foster service is not only reporting the highest number of children in need of care in it's history, but also the highest number of parents waiting to be licensed.
Ariel Clinical Services tells NewsChannel 5 that CBI background checks on parents typically take six to eight weeks, but are now taking up to six months. Officials speculate the backup is due to the spike in background checks for gun sales.
Each minute spent waiting to become a foster parent is 60 more seconds of anxiousness and excitement.
Foster parent MJ Tenorio said, "It's hard on the foster parents, but more hard on children, because the children need you."
Tenorio has fostered at least a dozen kids in need. She says it took around 4 months total to get her foster license. Tenorio has adopted three of those children and is in the process of adopting a fourth.
"I was already anxious to be a foster parent, and so if that time was doubled, I don't know if I would've been able to handle it," she said.
Joni Bedell, supervisor of Mesa County Department of Human Services, said, "We really do background clearances, we do a home-study really to get to know the family, to see if they're going to be a good fit for the kids that come in to care."
In the past, background checks typically took a few weeks.
Carrie Over, deputy director of Ariel Clinical Services, said, "Four to six weeks, eight weeks at the most was okay. Now that we're waiting five to six months, it's not okay."
Ariel officials say the holdup began when background checks for gun purchases spiked.
"That put a already struggling system very very very far behind," Over said.
"There's hardly any foster parents out there, so where the children supposed to go?" said Tenorio
However, no matter how long it takes, Tenorio says each minute is worth the wait.
"They definitely need a foster parent, somebody to love them and show them the affection that they deserve. Don't give up."
On a positive note, CBI tells NewsChannel 5 they recently implemented a new system to process civil background checks, which is already speeding up the process.