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Funding changes for Utah foster programs

Utah Foster Care says all of its state funding will start going to The Adoption Exchange instead, starting this summer. Photo: Getty Images

MIDVALE — A local Utah nonprofit, “Utah Foster Care,” for the first time in 20 years will lose its funding from the state. Those funds will instead go to “The Adoption Exchange.”

This is a change that surprised “Utah Foster Care” and Division of Family Services.

Diane Moore, with Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services talked to KSL-TV.

“[Utah Foster Care and The Adoption Exchange] are both beloved entities, and I don’t think I could have expected this or anybody could have expected this,” Moore said.

These organizations are the two main foster-to-adoption agencies in the state of Utah. The state has been awarding “Utah Foster Care” funding through the Department of Human Services Family Recruitment and Training. Starting July 1, that will all change. The funds will then go to “The Adoption Exchange” in a five year contract.

“On this (latest) evaluation, there was a successful proposal that shared a vision that the selection committee decided we would follow in the state of Utah,” Moore said.

Utah Adoption Exchange reaction

“I was like literally in shock because this really is such a big deal,” said Kathy Searle with the Adoption Exchange.

This change is full of mixed emotions for The Adoption Exchange because of their close existing relationship with Utah Foster Care.

“I’m fully confident that we will be able to provide exactly what these families need, and we’re hoping they can move past some of those initial feelings of sadness and shock and loss and give us a chance,” Searle said.

Utah Foster Care reaction

On the other side of the situation, Rob Gerlach of Utah Foster Care said, “This really hits us out of the blue, and it’s been a big shock.”

Gerlach is a foster parent, and he worries about the children and what these changes will mean.

“My hope is whatever happens, foster families will know how much we care for them, and everyone is working as hard as we can to make sure they are taken care of,” Gerlach said.

Utah Foster Care is also concerned for its employees and their jobs, especially in this time of crisis.

What the Division of Family Services is saying

“Anytime you make a change of a service provider that has been providing it for so long, there are always some challenges and difficulties,” Moore said. “I have the utmost respect of both of these agencies, and I really am confident that when everyone focuses on the families and the children they’re caring for, then we will have some great outcomes.”

As for the state, they say they realize these changes will cause some confusion.

There are over 1,300 foster parents in the state of Utah, with the demand always growing for more foster parents.

Note: The Utah chapter of The Adoption Exchange and KSL work together on Wednesday’s Child segments, where people are introduced to Utah children searching for a permanent adoptive home.