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Russell County foster families needed: 65 kids in system, only 12 homes available

PHOTO: Samantha Zarek

RUSSELL COUNTY, VIRGINIA - Out of the 65 Russell County Children in the foster care system, nine of them have been placed with one of only 12 local foster families. Others have been placed out of the county, and in some cases out of state. The Department of Social Services is hoping to turn these numbers around.

"More foster parents in our community, relatives becoming foster parents so these children can stay in the being closer to their families and where they can stay in their same schools so they don't have to go to a different school over and over and leave their friends," says Family Services Supervisor, Elizabeth Sabo.

Last year, $3.6 million was spent from all funding sources on caring for children in the system. Most of that money spent is from the cost of placing a child out of state. Regina Kinder is a Family Services Specialist. She says there's even more of a need for families willing to take children that require accommodations.

"...families that can take sibling groups, teenagers, kids with special needs," she says.

In an effort to expand the foster care system, DSS has partnered with the county on a new faith based forum. They're doing this with hopes of creating a netowrk of churches with local resources to reach out to potential new foster families.

"What that has done is made awareness to all of the churches and the Christians in the community to take an initiative, to take a child," says Vice-chairman of the Russell County Board of Supervisors, David Eaton.

Eaton says the most important part of the initiative partnership with DSS is to Make sure that Russell County has the resources to support these children within the county.

"We want to keep these kids here at home, we don't want them to leave this area. It's a huge detriment to us financially when they leave our public education, when they leave Russel County due to the Medicade types of funding," he says.

One local foster family says becoming a foster parent is more than just helping one child.

"You not only gain family through that child that you're providing a home for, the entire county is becoming your extended family," says foster parent, Mike Ward. The Wards have opened their home and hearts to children in need.

"I would encourage anyone to become a foster parent because if you have any love at all in your heart for the children in our area and you can provide to where they will stay in our area and not have to leave, so they can be with family," Ward says.

For more information on becoming a foster parent, follow the link to the Russell County Department of Social Services website: www.facebook.com/RCDSSfosterparent or www.facebook.com/russellcodss

Or, contact Liz Sabo at (276)-889-3031

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