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Need for foster parents in Big Bend

There is a shortage of foster families in the Big Bend and there's an alarming number of teenagers who never make it to foster care
Posted: 7:17 PM, Mar 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-15 23:17:18Z
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — There is a shortage of foster families in the Big Bend and there's an alarming number of teenagers who never make it to foster care.

In fact, there are more than 30 of them are living in group homes right now.

That's why many foster parents have stepped up, bringing more children than they'd anticipated into their homes.

Two of those families spoke with our Valerie Mills and they say they wouldn't change a thing.

"Everything changes when you meet the children. All of the scary things that you hear about them, the abuse that some of them have witnessed or experienced themselves, kind of vanish," said Daniel Burns, a foster parent. "You realize that these are just children and they're just children that need love and stability."

Daniel Burns and his wife, Olivia, don't just have one foster child, they have three along with a set of adopted twins.

Since they became licensed foster parents three years ago, the Burns have cared for 16 children.

"The children who have come into our home kind of balance out in a short period of time because they feel safe, they feel loved. They then gravitate toward that because you've shown them something that they haven't seen before," said Burns.

Burns isn't the only one who has a passion for helping others.

Cassandra Branch added three foster children to her family last year. She says she had the same concerns all parents do when entering the system.

"How are their behaviors going to be, are these kids going to feel loved and safe, and what can we do for them," said Branch.

Branch says their growth has been incredible. She also has three biological children and says they have welcomed and loved their new siblings.

The Branch family has their hands full with six kids, but says it's amazingly rewarding to open their home and hearts to these children.

"Families change and if you're open to the change and you're open to the journey, it's a great one to be on because you grow so much as a person and you're helping kids that can't help themselves," said Branch.

Both Burns and Branch say there are so many foster care resources in the Big Bend that have given them a strong support system during some of the tougher times.

One of those is the Guardian Ad Litem program.