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Local foster family shares their story about foster care experience

Posted at 6:01 PM, May 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 18:01:47-04

QUINCY, Fla. — There's a huge need for foster families in our community.

According to Boys Town North Florida, just last year, the agency had to refuse over 300 child placements due to the lack of foster homes available.

Brittany Barnett sat down with a family that has been fostering children for six years and is forever changed by the process.

"I love them to death. I wouldn't let them go for nothing, for no one. This is home to them and I want them to stay," said Calvin Ellis, a foster parent.

Six years ago, a family out in Quincy decided to take a chance and open up their doors to foster children. Three kids later, they can both say they are forever changed.

"Foster care has really changed me as a person and as a mother, even spiritually," said Darlene Cunningham, a foster parent.

It's an experience they wouldn't trade for the world, but it hasn't been without struggle.

The couple is currently fostering children ages 10, 12 and 13 years old, all from Boys Town North Florida's foster program.

Cunningham owes a lot of her success as a foster parent to Boys Town North Florida. She is especially thankful for the 24/7 support the agency provides.

"We had one situation where we were like, 'Okay, we are new at this. We aren't sure.' So we called our consultant. Within 15 minutes our consultant was here," said Cunningham.

Despite the ups and downs, Cunningham knows she would not be the same person if it wasn't for stepping out of her comfort zone to care for others.

"Doing foster care and really seeing the different things kids go though really opened by heart," said Cunningham.

The foster family is taking it one step further and plan on adopting two of their current foster children.