The growing need for safe foster homes

Wendylee Raun never planned on being a mother, until she turned 30 and saw a United Way commercial.

Raun's husband worked at a foster home that was operated by Raun's parents, so when she mentioned she was considering adoption or fostering, he knew just the child. And when Raun met the sweet 4-year-old girl, she agreed.

"We marched down to Hennepin County and said we want to adopt this girl," she said.

The county said the odds were against them. It was unlikely they would be a perfect match for this particular child. But after 10 months of waiting, they got the call.

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"She asked, 'Are you ready to be a mom?'" Raun remembers.

The little girl the Rauns fostered, and then adopted, is now 40 and has six children of her own. Wendylee Raun works for MN Adopt, an organization that contracts with the Department of Human Services. The name can be confusing; the agency provides information about adoption as well as foster care.

Children are sometimes placed in foster care because of physical or mental abuse or because their parents are struggling with addictions. Raun's daughter was placed with 20 families before she lived with the Rauns.

That's not typical, said Nikki Farago, assistant commissioner for Children and Family Services.

"Two-thirds of the children in the system are reunified [with their parents]," said Farago. In fact, reunification is the ultimate goal.

Host Angela Davis sat down with Farago and Raun to talk about foster care in Minnesota.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.