Hampton Roads needs more foster parents. Here’s how you can help

(Southside Daily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(Southside Daily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)

NORFOLK — There are nearly 1,000 children in the foster care system in Hampton Roads and Tidewater Friends of Foster Care wants to get more people interested in becoming foster parents.

“These kids are an invisible population and we need help caring for them,” said Audra Bullock, president of Tidewater Friends of Foster Care.

Anyone can foster as long as they are 18 years or older, have a steady income, a stable home environment and a clean criminal history, she said.

The goal of foster care is to give children a stable place to live while their parent’s custody cases get resolved, she said.

To get people interested in becoming a foster parent, Tidewater Friends of Foster Care will be hosting their annual Foster Care Aware Block Party on May 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Harrison Opera House on 160 West Virginia Beach Blvd. in Norfolk.

The public is invited to the free event to learn more about what it’s like becoming a foster parent and find out the strengths a community can bring to the foster system.

“Anyone can be a foster parent, you don’t have to have children to do it,” Bullock said.

In fact, Bullock said millennials have been some of the biggest supporters of foster children.

“It’s such a socially conscious thing to do,” she said.

Families who do choose to foster are eligible for a monthly stipend to help offset the costs of taking children in, Bullock said.

Another perk to fostering is if you do decide to adopt, the state will subsidize the adoption fees that you’d normally have to pay, she said.

In addition to learning about foster care, attendees of the block party will also learn about the organization’s newest initiative, ‘It Takes A Village’ — a digital community of people making a difference for children and families in foster care.

“Our goal is to bring more people together on behalf of Hampton Roads’ most vulnerable children,” Bullock said.  “You don’t have to foster to be part of the solution. This digital community works to connect, inspire and educate more people to build community support for foster parents and children.”

In addition to recruiting more foster parents, Tidewater Friends of Foster Care has as its mission enriching the lives of foster children.

Its programs for foster youth include tutoring, camper-ships, extracurricular activities and providing birthday and holiday gifts.

The organization is funded solely through private donations and foundation grants.

For more information on the event or to support as a sponsor or exhibitor, click here or contact info@tidewaterffc.org.

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Melanie Occhiuzzo started her professional journalism career at Southside Daily in June of 2018. She has since become a storyteller for the local community with special interest in anything locally-owned or animal related. You can find her running between meetings, researching the latest dog story online or reporting on the local school systems.