Forty-five children in Cherokee County are in foster care for one reason or another — 21 of those are placed outside of the county far away from their friends, their families and their schools because there simply are not enough foster families to take them all in.
Families like Jerry and Marcia Murry who have been foster parents for about six years now.
Marcia said they generally take in teenagers, because that is where the greatest need is, although their current foster son is eight.
“The teenagers are the ones that usually they have the hardest time placing, so we try to help where we can,” she said. “There’s a real big need for emergency police protective custody. We both work full time but we try to help with that on the weekends.”
TFI Family Services Inc. is the contracted foster care provider in the area and is always looking for new foster parents.
“We didn’t realize the need until we volunteered at a youth home and realized a lot of the kids are in shelters who could be in homes,” Marcia said, adding they then felt compelled to help.
“Our faith is a huge part of why we do this,” she said.
Foster families are required to complete a background check and a training period before being certified and licensed.
It’s not an easy road Marcia said, and foster parents often do not see the end result of their work. It can be emotionally draining but is worth it she says.
“The kids bring their stuff in in trash bag, they have their life in a trash sack,” she said adding they try to make sure each child has a suitcase when they leave.
“It’s been a journey,” Marcia said, adding the best part of the work is; “To have a child come in who’s scared and to help them to feel safe and to trust someone.”
Marcia said their church and their family all are supportive and help, treating the foster children as just one of the family.
She said her mother in particular is a huge help and is “Nana” to every child that comes through their home.
“Even when they leave our home we try to keep in contact with the kids to make sure they know they have someone who cares about them,” she said.
TFI’s mission is to reintegrate families as much as possible, a mission the Murrys agree with.
“[A] mom looked at me in court and said ‘I’m getting my kids back,’ I said ‘you better!’” Marcia said. “We’re not trying to do anything but help reunite families and help kids have permanent homes if that’s not possible.”
Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent can contact TFI at 1.800.279.9914 or online at www.tfifamilyservices.org.