Nevada Casino Hotels House Foster Kids Despite Risks
Over six foster children were temporarily put into Nevada casinos in the beginning of the year. These children lived in the rural area found in the northeast portion of Nevada.
Royel Johnson, a USC professor and expert on foster children (image: USC) is concerned about how foster kids were placed in Nevada casino hotels. Ideally, these children should have been assigned to authorized families or facilities in the local area, but due to a shortage of foster homes for teens and younger children, an estimated seven to nine kids were forced to stay at the unnamed casino hotels over a period of 89 days, according to KFF Health News. Despite a single state employee assigned to monitor the children while they were staying in the hotel, there were concerns about the costs associated. The children have since been reassigned to other, more appropriate locations.
Inappropriate Location for Foster Kids
Royel M. Johnson, an associate professor of education and social work at USC, expressed that it would be hard to imagine any situation that would deem it acceptable to put youngsters in foster care in casino lodgings. Johnson further explained that the purpose of foster care is to provide a substitute home-setting for minors who have gone through any form of abuse or mistreatment. In Johnson’s opinion, casinos are not suitable for minors, particularly for those in need of protection and aid, as they are exposed to a lifestyle that consists of activities seen as reserved for adults, such as drinking alcohol, taking part in gambling, witnessing exotic acts, etc.. In Johnson’s view, frequent exposure to such activities may lead to normalization and a higher chance for the children to partake in these harmful activities.
It is essential to bear in mind that teens in foster care already encounter elevated dangers of teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, and incarcerations – this kind of placement does not reduce their risk. Furthermore, casinos bar kids from participating in gaming floors, and do not permit minors of participants to be left alone in cars while adults are gambling. These are issues that attract national attention.
Between 2021 and 2022, there was a drastic decrease across more than half of the states in the number of licensed foster homes, according to The Imprint, a social service publication. Nevada was no exception, leading to an 18% dip in approved homes. In April 2021, Brandy Holbrook, a manager for the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services out of Elko, termed the situation the most dire she had seen in two decades. She revealed to KFF Health News that in Elko County alone, there were 12 beds for foster kids, but not one of them was available. Desperate to alleviate the shelter problem, the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services is exploring lessening the criteria of those who want to become approved foster parents.
In order to protect the well-being of young people, the state has procured a house in Reno to house a restricted number of foster children, putting an end to their placement in casino hotels.
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