For most, the holidays are time for family, but this year, a record number of Montana kids will be away from family as they cycle through the state's foster care system.

"Right now, as of this month, we have 2,775 children in foster care in the state of Montana," said Montana DPHHS Child and Family Services Division Coordinator Sarah Corbally. "This is the highest number we've ever seen in our state history of children in foster care."

Corbally says drug abuse appears to be driving the increased number of foster children, and one drug in particular is the main culprit.

"We've seen the number of children in foster care as a result of methamphetamine use rise from 230 in 2010, to over 850 as of last month," Corbally said. "We are in need of more homes for more children."

It’s a common perception that children in the foster care system are older, but that rule does not hold true for Montana.

"Half of our children are ages 0 to 5, so many of the children in foster care are very young," Corbally said. "The largest age group is 0 to 1 so we do have a lot of babies in foster care as well. There is a definite need in the state for good families who are willing to care for these children."

As of this month, there are 660 licensed foster homes, 370 kinship foster family homes and 120 therapeutic foster homes. Even added together, the number of homes doesn’t even total half of the 2,775 children needing a home. Anyone interested in helping to care for a foster child can find out more by calling 1-866-936-7837 (1-866-9 FOSTER).

Montana's foster care system has been filling rapidly each year since it reached a recent low-point in 2008. The following totals were counted in November of each year:

2005 2,164
2006 1,842
2007 1,657
2008 1,543
2009 1,591
2010 1,690
2011 1,746
2012 1,960
2013 2,218
2014 2,317
2015 2,775


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