Governor Warner has proclaimed May as Foster Care Month in the Commonwealth, and the Virginia Department of Social Services is recognizing and promoting awareness of foster parenting across the state.
Charlottesville native, Gloria Beard, has been a foster parent for about a year and says it's something she felt she had to do. "I'm from the old school and so I believe it takes a whole village to raise a child, and if they can't get the care they need at home, we as a community have to step up because these kids are our future," she explains.
Each year more than 800 children enter the foster care system in Virginia, some of whom are right here in our community. "There is a tremendous need right here in Charlottesville," says Martina Fuller, the Recruitment Social Service Worker for the Tri-Area Foster Families. "The same social ills that plague larger cities plague this city too and these children need your help."
Social workers like Fuller say the department is always looking for adults over 21, who have a source of income and can really be an advocate for a child. "They have to be someone that can love a child unconditionally," says Fuller.
Stephanie Henry has been a foster parent for 13 years and says caring for a child in need is a very rewarding experience, something she was born to do. "I feel it's my calling in life, to nurture and to love and to just take care of those who need caring. My biggest reward is to see a child do a transformation."
"I challenge the community to open their hearts and their homes and provide a safe haven for these kids, and help these families to either be reunited, or give these children a sense of family," says Fuller.
If interested in becoming a foster parent, please contact Martina Fuller at 434-970-3329 or visit online at www.dss.state.va.us/family/fostercare.