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Foster parents needed in Escambia County

It’s 8:30 p.m. on a Friday night. Jennifer Sanders finally got her two children to fall asleep. She takes a seat on the couch to relish in a moment free from responsibilities. Then the phone rings.

It’s the Department of Human Resources. They have a 2-month-old baby that needs a place to stay for the weekend. Jennifer already has her hands full with the two young children in the other room, but she knows only one other home aside from hers has space for the baby, so she agrees to take him.

Her husband works the weekend shift and her 13-year-old is out. She is alone. Jennifer calls a friend to watch her children while she drives to pick up the baby from DHR.

This is what it is like being a foster care parent in Escambia County.

Jennifer Sanders has been a foster care parent for nine years. Sanders has adopted two children and is in the process of adopting another. She has fostered 40 kids ranging from newborns to teenagers in her home.

The Escambia DHR currently has 50 children in its care and only eight homes that are available to foster and adopt and one home that is strictly adoption, said Tracie James-Mauldin, an Escambia County senior social worker. Once the space in the area is filled, the children are sent to other nearby homes or facilities.

“We need more foster homes,” Mauldin said. “We don’t have a lot homes that are available for older children.”

Mauldin said Escambia County had 30 families in 2000, but that number has declined over the years.

“A lot of the families have adopted and no longer have space to foster, which is great for the children but not so good for us,” Mauldin said. “Others have moved out of the county for differing reasons.”

Those who are interested in being a foster parent like Sanders, you can call DHR at (251)809-2000 to sign up for the 10-week course starting on March 5.