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EARLY YEARS: Need is growing for more Black foster parents in our hometowns

In Virginia, Black children represented 14% of the total child population in 2020, but 27% of all kids in foster care
DePaul Community Resources is looking for more parents like Crystal Wade to open their hearts and homes
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 5:52 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -When Crystal Wade decided she wanted to foster a child, she told her nine-year-old son that he was getting some company.

“He never thought there would be two at one time. I feel like in his mind, it’s going to be like, okay, one more boy, that’ll be great. But instead, he has two new dudes,” says Wade.

The two boys, one nine and the other 10, have been with her for a couple months.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I worked in a group home. I worked with students who have special needs. So, foster care is kind of the next step,” says Wade.

With such a busy household, I asked her how she keeps it all together.

“It took a while. I just had to figure out what I needed and what would work best for everyone. So, we use a huge white board. That has different responsibilities, just what we should do in the morning when we first wake up. We do a lot of repetition,” says Wade.

Wade is fostering through DePaul Community Resources, whose leaders say there’s a huge need for Black foster parents right now.

But there are obstacles.

“I think we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the relationship between the Black community and the child welfare system historically. It has not been a positive one. One of the things we have to do is build trust and build that relationship,” says Renee Brown with DePaul Community Resources.

Since studies show Black youth are overrepresented in foster care, Brown says it’s crucial they have caregivers who reflect their values and identity.

“So, we need to listen to the Black community and join with the Black community and hear what do we need to re-build and ask them to join us,” says Brown.

As for Wade, she says she’s taking it a week at a time. But for now, her son is enjoying having extra playmates.

“He loves it because he was the only child for so long,” says Wade.

She says anyone thinking of fostering should know they don’t need to have all the answers, just a heart for children.

“If you love kids, and you’re able to have some room and space in your home, and you want to teach them, you want to love on them, that’s pretty much what they need,” says Wade.

If you’d like more information about fostering or adoption, click on this link.

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