SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Across the state, there is a growing need for more foster parents and the pandemic has had a lot to do with that need. Smoky Mountain Children’s Home has more than 30 kids on its campus where they offer group home care. They also offer foster care for children and their families across East Tennessee.
Now, they’re asking for help so they can continue their mission.
“We have been around for 100 years,” Beverly Beard, Smoky Mountain Children’s Home’s Foster Care director, said. “We just celebrated 100 years on December 17th, 2020. So we have been doing childcare for a very long time in this state.”
She said the need for foster parents never goes away.
“We have around 75 foster homes all the way down to Chattanooga up to the Kentucky line,” Beard said. “We have 73 kids in foster homes right now.”
However, because of the pandemic, their need for help has become even greater.
“There is over 9,000 youth in custody in the state of Tennessee right now,” explained Beard. “So we are in desperate need of foster homes.”
The number of those seeking to foster has dropped drastically.
“We typically open close to 40 homes per year,” said Beard. “Covid hit (in) 2020 and we opened half of that.”
Beard adds, “More kids are coming back into care and so we need more foster homes.”
She said the hardest kids to place are those ages 12 to 17 because most people want to foster younger kids: “We don’t want teenagers or sibling groups sitting in offices waiting on a place to sleep.”
By signing up to be a foster parent, you can provide not only a bed for these children, but can also help Smoky Mountain Children’s Home provide for kids for another 100 years.
There are three ways to foster a child or sibling group:
- Traditional Foster Parent
- Foster to Adopt
- Respite Care
Another way you can help is by simply putting a yard sign in your front yard, church, or place of business to help spread the word.
Smoky Mountain Children’s Home is having an informational meeting Tuesday, June 22 at 6 p.m. through Zoom. You can call them at 865-365-0223 or email them at FOSTER@SMCH.ORG
If you want to make a donation to their organization or to get a yard sign you can contact their public relations person, Tammie Mauldin through that same number.