Kids in foster care may be the victims of abuse or neglect, and the number of those kids is rising sharply in Yolo County, as well as elsewhere in the region.

Yolo County officials say the number of kids being removed from their home has risen some 40 percent in the past year.

That rate is outpacing the number of available foster families.

Social workers want to keep kids as close to home as possible.

Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency director Karen Larsen explained to ABC10 why that's important.

"It's always better for our little people if they can stay in their community, stay going to school with their friends, stay connected to the people that they know, to lessen, kind of, the trauma of all that they're going through, in terms of being removed from their family and whatever happened to get to that point," Larsen said.

But with a shortage of foster families - also known as resource families - in Yolo County, more kids are having to go out of their communities.

That's why Woodland Community College is offering free classes for potential resource families, called the Foster and Kinship Care Education Program.

Cherie Schroeder is the director of that program.

"Everything is free. Parking is free. Classroom is free. We provide CPR and first aid, and Yolo County partners with us and does our background checks," Schroeder said. "We're really trying to make this at no cost to the caregiver."

Who can be a foster parent?

First, let's talk income. Officials don't want that to be a barrier for loving families to open their homes.

Resource families receive health and dental insurance for that child, plus a monthly reimbursement for the kids.

Also, whether you're retired, single, married, gay, straight-- as long as you're willing to open your home and heart to a kid in need, you are eligible to foster.

Woodland Community College has more information on fostering HERE.