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Foster families navigating formula availability

Infant formula
Posted at 4:31 PM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 11:25:44-04

IDAHO — Millions are still being impacted by the baby formula shortage, but foster parents seem to be left in an especially tough spot.

About three-quarters of parents in the United States, use formula to feed their infants according to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

For foster families, only specific formulas are covered by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), limiting foster parents to exactly what they can get for babies.

Related: Facebook group created to help Treasure Valley parents find formula amid shortage

According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's website, there are only a handful of formula types Idahoans can get through the WIC program, limiting options for the vital source.

“That’s the only way we can feed them. We can’t breastfeed,” foster mom Kimberly Jacobson said. “Sometimes the parents or the mother of the child, if it’s approved, can send breastmilk but in my experience out of the 15-16 kids that I’ve had the past couple years, it’s only been with one.”

After much frustration and not being able to find the formula she needed Jacobson said she reached out to her WIC worker who could change the formula brand — making the formula a little easier to find but still a challenge.

Related: 'Just breastfeed instead': Why breastfeeding isn't an option for many families facing formula shortage

“I have had to make several trips to different stores,” foster mom Emily Finnsson said.

Finnsson has been a foster mom for about a year and says it was a job she always desired. She now is caring for a baby in the foster care program.

She says at the start of the recall, which contributed to a shortage of baby formula, she was stressed about finding what she needed, but Idaho's foster community quickly stepped up to help one another.

“The foster care community has really come together and been a resource. Certain foster parents are updating each other on where the formula is and then I also am connected with Boise Angels and I had a family that had some formula that gave me formula. So I've definitely been feeling it, but I've also felt very supported," Finnsson said.

She also added the foster community has been sharing formula and not hoarding cans, taking away some of the stress.

If you are looking for formula, you can join the Treasure Valley Infant Formula Availability group, where parents post exactly where they are finding formula.