HOUSING + HOMELESSNESS

Gov. Cox, Utah Foster Care calls on Utah to step up and become foster parents

May 28, 2024, 8:16 PM | Updated: Jun 6, 2024, 3:17 pm

Governor Spencer Cox poses with first lady Abby Cox, former child Natalie Clark, and Utah Foster Ca...

Governor Spencer Cox poses with first lady Abby Cox, former foster teen Natalie Clark, and Utah Foster Care board members. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

LEHI, Utah — Utah is facing its lowest number of foster families in 25 years. To address this statistic, Gov. Spencer Cox issued a call to action for more families to step up and foster young Utahns. 

Cox held a press conference at software company Entrata in conjunction with Utah Foster Care. 

Utah Foster Care CEO Nikki MacKay shared the statistics surrounding foster care in Utah. 

“[Foster care impacts] 1,756 children. One in four are Latino, one in three identify as LGBTQ, and one in three are teenagers.” MacKay said. The biggest need for foster homes in Utah are children over nine years old, along with those in “sibling groups.” 

From foster child to foster advocate

Natalie Clark spent her teenage years in foster care. She shared that even though fostering isn’t forever, it has led to a forever support system in adulthood.

“I want to thank each of you that took me into your home, giving me the love that I never got before,” Clark said. “I know [I have] people cheering me on in every single thing that I do in life. and none of them ever had to change my diaper,” Clark said.

Clark said as much as her foster families helped her, she also believes she helped them. 

“As much of an impact each person had on me, I can say with certainty I had a profound impact with each of them.” 

Clark now spends her adulthood advocating for foster kids in need. She urged those who can step up, even for a short time, to reach out to Utah Foster Care. 

“I want to please urge you to consider fostering a teen, and to become the cheerleaders and loving village that I have, and they deserve.” 

A call to action 

Gov. Cox said he believes Utah can be the first state where there’s a waiting list for families to foster, rather than kids waiting on help.

“Twenty-four years ago we faced a similar crisis in our foster system,” Cox said. “Then-Governor Mike Leavitt called a press conference like we’re doing today … It won’t surprise you to know that the response was overwhelming, that we then got a record number of foster parents that responded.” 

Cox said they are calling on Utahns to do the same thing again now. 

The Utah foster system is not broken

First Lady Abby Cox has a special tie to foster care. She and Gov. Cox acted as foster parents in the past. 

The system is not broken. There are broken families … broken people. That’s what we are here to do, to help heal the brokenness of these children and of these families,” she said. 

First Lady Cox described how a foster family or parent can come in many variations. She said it doesn’t matter whether they are single or married, religious or non-religious. 

“They can be parents with children, they can be individuals without children. They can be empty nesters.” 

She called Utah the most generous of any state. That generous reputation should convince people to step up and foster, she said. 

KSL NewsRadio’s Emma Keddington contributed to this article. 

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Gov. Cox, Utah Foster Care calls on Utah to step up and become foster parents