In Henrico County, there is call for more people to sign up to be foster parents. There is a need for families who can take in teenagers, children with special needs and older siblings.
Right now, Henrico Social Services say there are 92 foster children in the county, but there are only 45 homes that can take in these kids.
Victoria Parrish gives a motherly pep talk to 18-year-old Jermall Preston.
"It's going to be great, you'll be fine," she says as he is about to have a long day at school.
He may not be her son by blood. but the 18-year-old is part of her family.
"I've been a foster mother to Permalloy for seven months, and it's been a wonderful experience," said Parrish.
Teenagers make up more than half of the children in Henrico's foster system, according to Social Services. It can be difficult to find homes to place them in.
"I just didn't want to be somewhere where I didn't feel wanted," says Preston, who entered the foster care system in July 2017.
Parrish says she thought she wanted younger children at first, but after fostering five children older than 12 years old, she's not looking back.
"They're pretty self sufficient," says Parrish. "They can tell you when they have problems or issues that they want to discuss in depth, and it's just made me realize I can be a more patient person as well."
Henrico Social Services will soon start a 10-week training program on March 13 for people interested in foster care.
"These kids need us," says Sean Rozier, assistant director of service programs for Henrico Social Services. "They need the love the people in this community have to share in their families."
Applicants can be single or a couple, but must be 21 years old, have a stable income and have room in their home. The process includes several things:
For this foster family, they say the biggest benefit is that Preston is now getting his GED, with hopes of college or training in a trade.
"It wasn't possible at first, but now, it's like, 'okay, you can do it bro,'" says Preston.
"I have confidence in them, I do! I expect great things," says Parrish.
More information from Henrico County Social Services:
The Henrico County Department of Social Services will hold a meeting Wednesday, March 7 for individuals and couples who would like to learn more about providing foster care to county youth.
The meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Board Room of the Henrico Human Services Building, 8600 Dixon Powers Drive.
Foster parents are asked to bring a child into their home and be available to provide short- and potentially long-term care in a safe, stable environment.
Henrico has a particular need for foster homes for teenagers, children with special needs and sibling groups. Foster parents must be at least 21 years old, have their own source of income and sufficient space to care for a child. Foster parents may be single or married, male or female, with or without children of their own. Foster parents receive monthly stipends to offset their costs of care.
For more information, contact Kasey Lumpkins at (804) 501-5163 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Sue Sparks Karyshyn at (804) 501-4011 or email@example.com. Information also is available at henricocares.com.
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