TYLER, Texas (KETK) – In Smith County, there are currently 320 children in foster care and only about 140 foster families to take them in.
The pandemic caused some basic services and support for children and foster families to be suspended for months.
“The children in care went up very quickly and so like in Smith County pretty quickly we went from about 250 children in foster care up to about 320, so it was a drastic increase,” said Justin Hayes, Executive Director of The Fostering Collective.
With a current increase of foster children, less funding and limited homes, about 350 Texas children a day are having to sleep in offices or hotels because there are no foster family for them.
“It doesn’t matter. Mom is mom and dad is dad and it doesn’t matter what they have done… their children love them unconditionally and faithfully and they want to be with mom and dad. Imagine a holiday where you can’t be with your family,” said Christi Sowell, The Fostering Collective program director.
These children are part of a system that is tirelessly trying to find a place for them in time for the holidays.
“A lot of them don’t even know they’ve never had a real Christmas, they’ve never gotten gifts, they’ve never put a tree up or had stockings hanging by you know the fireplace. they’ve probably never had a fireplace in their homes. so that in itself is is heart breaking,” Sowell said.
Sowell also tells us most of the children long for their biological parents, and many are misunderstood and often labeled as troubled as they get taken around from home to home.
“There is a huge need for families that can take in children to keep them in a home setting. There is a huge need for families that are experienced foster families to step up and be willing to take in maybe teenagers that are harder,” Sowell said.
The Fostering Collective of East Texas works to help these children find a home, and hopefully in time to be able to experience Christmas with a family of their own.
If you would like to learn more about The Fostering Collective or help out visit their website here.