(UNDATED) - Thousands of Indiana residents step up each year to care for children going through a difficult time in their lives.
In May state leaders recognized foster parents for the sacrifices they make for children who cannot remain with their biological families.
Ann Arvidson, a foster care consultant with the state, says it takes a special person to not only care for a child who may have been abused or neglected, but also to support them during their transition to foster care.
"Just being able to open their hearts and homes, yet know that the kids that are coming have been torn from their families, so they're going to have some issues that may come with them," Arvidson explains.
In Indiana, there are close to 5,000 children being cared for in non-relative foster homes.
Arvidson says there is a great need for more foster parents and she encourages adults who think they might have the time and resources to reach out to the Department of Children and Family Services to learn more.
Arvidson says some families are better suited to care for younger children, and it can be difficult to find placement for teenagers.
Another challenge, she adds, is that there are fewer foster homes in some parts of the state, both rural and urban.
She explains that it's important to try to place children with a foster family in their own community.
"We try to keep kids in their school system if we can," she stresses. "You know, they've already been torn from their families, so we try to keep as much the same as we can.
"And the other thing we try to do, is match kids with the right families."
Arvidson says the goal is to help children return to their biological parents, but adoptive families are sought for those who can't go home.
She says some children end up finding permanent homes with their foster families.
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