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Foster families needed for rising number of teenagers in foster system

Local foster system has more than 850 kids in care

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Family Support Services of Northeast Florida is seeing a record number of children in the foster care system, and the organization is actively recruiting families to open up their homes.

One specific group of children have a difficult time getting placed with foster families.

The FSS is looking for local families who are patient and understanding of the needs of teens in the foster care system.

"Teenagers, kids that are a part of a large sibling group, kids in the LGBT community,” Jesse Wilson of Family Support Services said. “We're trying to find homes for those children, and they prove difficult to find."

Wilson said that FSS has more than 850 kids in the system and has seen a spike in teens coming into foster care.

Wilson knows what it's like to be in a foster family. His parents were part of the foster care program for more than 50 years before his mother passed away. He said about 1,000 kids were in and out of their home.

"It was a great experience,” Wilson said. “To this day, I have so many brothers and sisters because of that."

Wilson said there are many misconceptions that might be keeping families from getting involved.

"People think you have to be married,” Wilson said. “You don't have to own your own home. You can be single and foster. You can be a same-sex couple and foster."

FSS offers a variety of services to help foster families, including classes, financial aid and counseling.

"We walk beside you,” Wilson said. “We hold your hand through the process because we want you to be prepared and comfortable with caring for children."

FSS case workers stressed that fostering is only temporary. Their goal is to reunite the children with their parents once the problems in the household have been resolved.

Click here for more information about the Family Support Services of Northeast Florida.