GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - A loving home is a basic necessity for all children, but in South Mississippi that basic necessity isn’t always a given.
When a child is in foster care studies show they’re 50% less likely to graduate from high school potentially setting them behind for life. In Mississippi, more than 4,000 children are in the foster care system.
“Unfortunately between 20% and 30% of those children in the system don’t have a home to go to because there is a lack of foster parents.” said Ellen Weatherford, foster parent recruiter.
Weatherford is working to bridge that gap. With Health Connect America she recruits foster parents. It’s normally a challenging task and it’s been made more complicated over the last year during the pandemic.
“We do have foster parents that are fearful of the virus, so we do have some homes that aren’t wanting to take in children, Weatherford said. “That makes the number of foster homes available to those children waiting for a home even harder to find.”
Gulfport’s Health Connect office was setup during the pandemic less than a year ago and is designed to give foster parents the support they might need.
“We’re here for you every step of the way starting from the training process to you getting a child, we provide therapy and all kinds of other services for the child while they’re in your home.” said Weatherford.
The basic qualification for becoming a foster parent is simple, just have a loving heart.
“You need to be able to provide basic needs, we’re not asking you to live in a mansion, you can live in an apartment complex, you can live anywhere as long as it passes regulations and we would be glad to have you on our team as a foster parent,” said Weatherford. “When you become a foster parent you’ll be the most amazing person in the world because you’ll be doing God’s work.”
For more information on becoming a foster parent: https://healthconnectamerica.com/ or call 228-206-6863.
Health Connect America’s Gulfport office also provides recourses for mental health and substance abuse treatment.