Tallapoosa County Department of Human Resources (DHR) is hoping for some locals to open their hearts to foster or even adopt children. The DHR is hosting a foster adoptive parent recruitment open house from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 14 in hopes of finding local homes for 56 foster children.

“I only want to see the best for them,” DHR director Brenda Floyd said. “I can’t stress how important foster parents are.”

Floyd said the number of children in foster care in Tallapoosa County grew from 40 to 56 in December because two groups of siblings were added. The DHR has 20 approved foster and adoptive homes right now and is in need of at least 40 total in the county.

“We’re hoping we can at least fill up our next class with 10 adoptive families,’ Floyd said. “We need at least 40 because the number of homes we have approved constantly changes. We want to make sure we can do our best to keep put children in our county.”

Tallapoosa County foster children are placed in surrounding counties when there aren’t any homes available in the county, according to Floyd. The DHR would rather keep them closer so the children can still see their biological families.

“These children need foster parents,” Floyd said. “Whether a child is in a foster home one day or one year, those foster parents can and will make a positive (difference) in a child’s life.”

Floyd said finding foster children homes is a statewide issue because foster parents can retire, take a break or decide to just adopt and stop fostering altogether.

“Foster parenting is rewarding but it’s also very challenging,” Floyd said. “We need to be constantly recruiting because the number of foster parents leaving their roles.”

The DHR is looking for all kinds of parents from married couples to single adults and who can accommodate a various number of children. DHR does not want to separate siblings.

“We want to place them together but it can be a challenge to have a home with that much bed space,” Floyd said. “We want to have foster parents who understand our children are dealing with challenges, traumas; they may experience things we don’t know about.”

While the children are in foster care, DHR works on a permanent plan for their families so children can go back to their homes. Adoption is a last resort, according to Floyd.

“Sometimes (adoption is) possible for various reasons,” Floyd said. “Our adoptive parents, they’re usually foster parents also.”

The DHR decided to hold the event on Valentine’s Day because its motto is “Open your heart. Open your home.” The DHR holds about three or four two-hour open houses every year, but this one will be all day to accommodate more people’s schedules.

“We encourage folks to come find out more info,” Floyd said.

DHR employees will attend the open house to talk to potential foster parents and current and former foster parents as well as representatives from the Alabama Foster Adoptive Parent Association and Alabama Post Adoptive Connection will speak at the event. 

“We have lots of training opportunities for our parents,” Floyd said. “We really make a diligent effort here.”

After completing an application, the DHR hosts three-hour, 10-week foster training program on weekends and weeknights. Hopeful foster parents also need a health clearance to apply. Full classes have 10 prospective foster parents.

“We are trying to be adaptive or creative to what our foster parent need to get the training,” Floyd said. “The process itself can take several months from beginning to end.”