KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Thousands of children are in custody with the Department of Children’s Services in Tennessee.
A spokesperson with the department said they desperately need more families to become foster parents who will give a child a safe and loving environment. In Knoxville, the Smits family became foster parents seven years ago.
Becky Smit said she and her husband were inspired by a movie to become foster parents. Eventually, they grew their family by three. Kadyen is now seven, Madison is five and Lillian is three.
Smit said she didn’t know what to expect when she became a foster parent in 2010. Since then she said her family has fostered six children at a time. Now, she says she can’t see her family’s live any other way.
“Anyone can be foster parents as long as you care about making a kid life better,” said Smits.
Foster parents must be at least 21 years of age. They can be single or married and with or without children of their own.
The Tennessee Department of Children’s Service said those interested in becoming foster parents must be able to give without the expectation of immediate returns, have room in their home and their daily life, learn and use proven behavioral management skills and love and care for children with problems.
Carren Broadnux is the Resource Linkage Coordinator for the Department of Children’s Services in Tennessee. She says although she doesn’t have statistical data to show if there are more or less families fostering children, she sees a change in family dynamics. More families that need services through DCS are asking for help.
Rob Johnson with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services said there are currently 497 children in DCS custody in their East Tennessee region, which includes Anderson, Campbell, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott and Union counties. Additionally, 827 children are in DCS custody in the Knox County region and 912 children are in DCS custody in the Smoky Mountain region, which includes Blount, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson and Sevier counties.
The Department of Children’s Services is hosting foster parent training classes on August 1 at 6 p.m. at Redeemer Church of Knoxville, 1642 Highland Avenue; and on September 16 at 9 a.m. at the DCS office, 2600 Western Avenue.