is sending out a call for foster parents.
Chaddock licensing manager for the foster care and adoption program Scott Wheelock says the agency has about 80 licensed foster homes, but that's not enough compared to the number or children who need a place to stay.
"There's a specific need for children," Wheelock said. "Talking about foster children 10 years and above. Sometimes people are willing to open up their home for younger children, seem like an easier child to maintain their home. Which leaves some of the older children out there wondering where they're going to stay."
For more than 20 years,
Ron and Doris Durk
of Mendon have made their home a safe haven for foster children.
The Durks say that their life as foster parents was a calling from God.
"We went to bed one night. We thought the TV was off," Doris Durk said. "We still don't know whether it was or not. And I woke up about 2 o' clock in the morning and they were saying foster care at Chaddock. It was a new program that was starting. We had heard about it. Kind of joked about doing it but ... no! And so I woke my husband up and I said, "They're talking about foster parents at Chaddock right now," and he said, "Wow, I think you better call them in the morning," and we felt like it was a calling. And we have been in it 24 years."
Wheelock says that older children need a regular, consistent place to lay their heads each night.
"Permanency in a child's mind is safety," Wheelock said. "So once they're safe, everything else goes with that."
He also says that sometimes people are intimated to take on the challenge of an older child.
"As they get older, they get bigger, they have possibly more behavioral issues," Wheelock said. "They think more independently and when you with someone who thinks independently sometimes it makes things for difficult."
But the Durks say the key to caring for any foster child is a simple one.
"You love 'em and love 'em and love e'm some more," Doris Durk said. "And forgive them and try to understand."
"If we bring a child into our home we're gonna treat them just exactly like we would our own," Ron Durk said. "And try to love them and show them compassion. We're devout Christians and we try to set an example for these kids."
An example that's still making a difference for 24 years and counting.
In 2011, the Durks were honored for their years of love and service to foster children with an award from the Samantha Otte Foundation.
Click here to learn more about the Chaddock foster care program.