Foster families needed in Valley, 15,000 children in foster care system

PHOENIX - With 15,000 children in foster care, a community meeting in Maryvale Wednesday night aimed to increase the number of families willing to take in kids on a temporary basis.
The town hall meeting was held at the Maryvale Community Center, a part of Phoenix child advocates say is in great need for foster families.
Several agencies will be there to answer questions about what it takes to become a foster parent.
Representatives from Arizona's Children Association told ABC15 that the need for foster families is especially high in the West Valley where there are a high number of children being removed from homes.  
Jennifer, who asked we not use her last name for confidentiality reasons, decided to become a foster parent just two years ago. In that time frame, she has had a total of eight children in and out of her home. She has three foster kids currently.
"People often think 'I could never do that,'" she said. "They need to think about what they can do. You maybe can't fix the entire problem but you can help one kid at a time when they need it."
Of the 15,000 kids in the system, it is estimated that 10 percent are currently living in group homes.

Foster parents Vickie and Martin Gonzales went to the meeting in hopes of fostering again. They say they hope others seriously consider opening their hearts and homes to foster children.

"It's just taking that one and knowing you can make an impact in their life. And making it possible for them to have a life that we deem as  normal. And I just want to do my best and my part to be a mentor to as many as I can," Martin Gonzales said.

Some of the requirements to be a foster parent include passing a background check, a family assessment, a lot of paperwork and completing 30 hours of training.

Gonzales says all of that hard work is worth it.

"The biggest misconception is you have to be perfect," Gonzales said. "And I think that's hard for a lot of families, because they think they have to be perfect to take in a foster child and adopt. And nobody's perfect. So I think the misconception just needs to be taken and thrown out the window."


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