HARRIS COUNTY - As the foster parent shortage continues to impact children in Harris County, local foster care agencies are making yet another appeal, this time to a more specific group.
A single man or a single woman might not think they’re able to become foster parents, but local agencies say single-parent foster homes are just as effective and important when it comes to caring for foster children.
"Love, stability, trust, and consistency are really all a child needs," those words from Kenyetta Bolling, who's been a foster mother for about a year and a half.
Bolling is also a single woman, but that hasn’t stopped her from making a difference in the life of a 7-year-old little girl.
"I walk into my home, pull up in my driveway, and I just think wow, I have so many things that are already here and that so many children don’t have the opportunity to experience. So I wanted to step outside myself, and bless somebody else," said Bolling.
For those who think you need to be married or in a relationship to foster a child, Dejuana Jernigan, president and CEO of Arms Wide Adoption Services in Houston, says differently.
"Families look different; single parent, dual-parent, any race, gender, gender identity," she said.
Arms Wide Adoption assists people looking to both foster and adopt, Jernigan says oftentimes single people tend to think they’re not qualified to foster.
"Most people think you have to own a house, you have to have a lot of money, you have to be married, all those things are myths about foster care," Jernigan said.
And as a foster home shortage continues to plague the Greater Houston area, she wants to make it clear, that just because you don’t have a significant other, doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes to change a child or teenager's life.
"Single parents raise children every day, and being a single foster parent is not any different, except there are some more regulations that you have to follow," said Jernigan.
And Bolling says she’s a prime example, she’s even learned a thing or two from her "darling child" who waltzed into her home and her heart.
"She has taught me to sit back, be mindful, and cognizant of the simple things we have, the simple things in life that really are the root of happiness," Bolling said.
Arms Wide Adoption says even single foster parents are never alone, agencies provide them with continuous support and resources.
"We’re with them, we’re their support, we’re their parenting partners," Jernigan said.
Jernigan also points out the urgent need to find foster homes for African American children and teens in foster care, saying it’s harder to find homes for them, and they have a longer wait for adoption than their counterparts.
If you’d like more information about what it takes to become a foster parent, click here.