CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) – While the pandemic has been over for some time, some of the effects still remain, including an overall lack of foster families. West Virginia has been particularly impacted by this and currently has around 6,200 children in its foster care system, leaving officials and families overwhelmed.

Nearly 200 of these children are in emergency shelters and group homes awaiting a foster home, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and more than 31% of children in the foster care system are 13-17 years old.

“I think what people don’t realize though is the joy that a teenager can bring to your life. We get a lot of calls for homes that want, you know, little kids, ages zero to two. And you know, I get it, babies are cute, right? Everybody wants a baby, and sometimes we occasionally will need a home for a baby, it just doesn’t happen that often, you know,” Terrilyn Durnal, a Licensing Specialist with the National Youth Advocate Program said. “More often than not, we’re trying to place older children, teenagers and those children that are part of sibling groups.”

Although the main goal of the foster care system is reunification, sometimes the plans change and kids are up for adoption, including older teenagers.

Despite the struggles, West Virginia provides financial support to foster families based on the child’s needs. Foster parents need to go through training, background checks and home visits and can get licensed as fast as 30-60 days.

Durnal said that right now is the perfect time to sign up to foster, as the children would have a home just in time for Christmas. If you are interested in opening up your home to these children, you can visit here.