FAIRMONT W.Va. (WBOY) — The National Youth Advocate Program (NYAP) has emphasized its urgent need for more foster parents within the region, specifically foster families that can keep siblings together.

The organization has said that foster care is necessary to provide safe homes for youth until they can return home and that when siblings are separated, they can experience unnecessary trauma. Because of this, the NYAP is committed to helping siblings stay together when foster care is needed.

“You think about some of these young teenagers in foster care, you know, a lot of them have had some really tough life situations dealt to them and they’ve really been responsible for some of the upbringing of their brothers and sisters,” said Terrilynn Durnal, NYAP Regional Licensing Specialist.

The organization has said that its mission is to be “an energetic instrument of compassion and change in the lives of children, youth and families and the systems, structures and practices that affect them.”

“Currently there is over 6,000 children in the foster care system in West Virginia, and currently over 500 of those children are in group homes and shelters. So, they’re not with family, they’re not in a family environment, they’re not in a kinship placement. They are living in group homes and shelters, and we desperately want to get those in a home environment. Those kids deserve to be in a family-type setting and so that is ultimately our number one goal is to get them in a home environment,” said Durnal.

For more information on the National Youth Advocate program and how you can get involved with fostering you can visit their website at nyap.org or call 1-877-692-7226.