By Geena Martinez
MIDLAND - Local kids in foster care could find themselves staying in shelters longer than usual and it's all because of state budget cuts. It has one local children's shelter worried.
The Department of Family and Protective Services has seen its share of budget cuts, and although they're not exactly sure where they'll be cut, this could be the first time that children in their care are directly affected.
On any given day, nearly 70 children call High Sky Ranch in Midland their temporary home.
The Ranch is meant to be a transitional shelter from the time they're placed in the foster system until they can find a permanent home with a loving family.
But state budget cuts could prolong that period.
"If the budget cuts do affect foster care, we're concerned we may even have fewer parents," Jalynn Hogan, with High Sky, said.
Meaning an even longer stay at the ranch.
Hogan said there's already a shortage of foster parents in West Texas, and about 60 percent of foster kids in the Basin have to be placed outside this region because of that shortage.
If the proposed cuts are approved, there may not be enough money to give back to those parents and that can add up.
"Food, shelter, transportation, medical costs," Hogan said. "If they cut the funding to foster care or adoption subsidies, we're concerned that might affect the number of foster parents or adoptive parents able to provide."
And if lawmakers continue to slash funding, case workers would be required to take on a heavier workload.
"The investigation process would likely be a slower process because you have more cases to tend to," Hogan said. "New kids coming into the system, they don't have room in the shelters because they're full of children that can't be moved into foster and adoptive placements."
She said it's a cycle that can hopefully be avoided, but they'll do what they can to keep up.
"We may have to do more fundraising to get the money but we will continue to provide quality care for children," Hogan said.
Hogan hopes the proposed budget cuts won't stop people from wanting to help these kids. If you're interested in becoming a foster parent, you can visit www.highsky.org.