More foster families needed in Montgomery County
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (ABC7) —
On Wednesday, Montgomery County's Department of Health and Human Services held its annual picnic for foster parents and families.
The event is designed to bring smiles to the faces of more than 400 kids currently in foster care in Montgomery County, and to celebrate those that are now graduating from high school.
But organizers hope the picnic also serves as a call to action for parents in a position to help.
"Unfortunately, we do have a need in Montgomery County for foster families, because sometimes having children stay in their biological homes is not safe for them," said Lisa Merkin with Child Welfare Services. "So while we look for other alternatives, we use our foster families to ensure the child has a safe place to go until the family issues can be worked out or addressed."
Right now, Merkin says there are about 200 licensed foster families in Montgomery County.
"My husband and I started talking about it in the fall, and we'd just gotten a bigger home, and we started thinking about how our home is now big enough to have more kids here," said foster parent Jeanne Marie Garcia. "I just think it's important for people to consider fostering."
Garcia and her husband have two biological sons of their own. Now, they're fostering a 4-year-old girl as well.
"I just would encourage people that if you have a safe, warm, happy home, to consider opening your doors to accept a child, because it's really fulfilling," she said.
The children in need of foster families range in age from infancy up to 21, and come from all backgrounds.
"So far, we've had ten foster kids come through our house since November first of last year, and each one of them have given us something to reflect on," said Jason Plummer, another foster parent. "And each one that has come through, their resiliency is amazing. That's why we're doing it, is just, knowing we've been able to help someone."
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, children in foster care have typically been removed from their homes due to some form of abuse or neglect that posed a significant risk to their safety.
People interested in becoming foster parents can also call Montgomery County's Foster Parent Line at 240-777-1664.