Virtual foster parent training begins statewide to address shortage of rural foster homes

With 400 children in the rural foster care system, Humboldt County is among those in dire need of more foster homes, with only four total to support displaced children.  

Virtual training provided by the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) for potential foster families is taking place March 19, March 21, March 26 and March 28, 5:30-8 p.m. on the Microsoft Teams application in order to introduce new, streamlined parent training in Nevada’s 15 rural counties.  

“The goal of this new format is to be able to provide more frequent, on-demand training for convenient scheduling and access while giving prospective foster parents the tools they need to be successful,” said Kevin Quint, Clinical Program Manager, Advanced Foster Care Program.

Ideally, children that may need a different living environment would be able to stay with loved ones and close to their regular support system, but in the event that is not possible, DCFS must find an alternative home. Because there are so few homes available, a child could potentially be sent hundreds of miles away from everything they know, further disrupting their life. 

“DCFS tries to find the next closest home that is compatible with the child’s age, gender and needs. This can be anywhere in the 15 rural counties of Nevada. Commonly, children will go to a county with a higher population, like Carson City or Elko, but they can even be placed as far as Pahrump, Nevada. Sometimes when there are no homes open, the child(ren) may live in a group home setting until a foster family can be identified,” explained Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Social Worker Supervisor Kimberly Schmeling in an email. 

As the first step in the licensing process, the four training sessions cover licensing steps, keys to success, caring for children who have special needs or have experienced trauma, and working with birth families for prospective foster parents. Guest speakers including social workers, therapists, former foster youth, birth parents, and current and former foster parents will also participate, sharing experiences and insights.

“We want to get families excited about providing trauma informed care to foster youth. That means finding creative solutions to challenges, learning new skills to help children heal from their losses, and asking for support and additional resources when encountering roadblocks in life,” said Schmeling. 

Foster children need an environment that is safe while their family situation heals. Safe means normal and authentic, but certainly not perfect. Rural foster parents can be single or married, work full or part-time, and rent or own their own home. DCFS provides financial support to assist with the foster child’s food, housing, clothing, and educational supplies. 

“When People think of foster care they may think of trauma and families being broken apart. The reality is that foster care is designed to bring families back together and integrate into the community in a positive way. Your family can be a part of that magic through being a foster parent, because a child can never have too many adults in their life that love and protect them,” said Schmeling.

That time can have a very big impact on the child(ren) and their family or parents. Being able to keep children near their family members, friends, and other familiar aspects of life can be a great advantage to them, no matter how long they need care.  

Foster children can spend anywhere from a few days to a few years in the system, but most kids typically spend a year in foster care, according to Schmeling. 

After completing the training, DCFS staff will provide individual support to each potential foster parent to complete the remaining requirements for foster care licensure, which include a background check and participation in a home study to ensure the home and family are a good fit for a child in foster care, according to DCFS. 

“The sacrifices foster parents make for themselves and their families to care for a child in need of a loving home do not go unnoticed. We want to make sure we are breaking down barriers to foster care licensure and meeting prospective foster parents where they are,” said Betsey Crumrine, Acting Deputy Administrator, Child Welfare.

To register for training, please go to and click on the Get Started button.