VINCENNES, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – A local foster family is sharing their story in hopes it will inspire others to foster, as thousands of kids in Indiana are still in need of a foster home.
According to Indiana Mentor, a local foster care agency, around 5,000 kids still need a placement into a foster home.
“It only takes one, one adult to help these kids,” Bill Loffer, Vincennes foster parent, said.
Bill Loffer said he and his wife became licensed foster parents earlier this year.
“We’ve talked about this for years about doing this, and once we got the room, in four months the house was full. So that’s the way we wanted it all along I guess,” Loffer said.
After taking in their first child, Loffer said he received a call a few months later from a DOC worker who said they had a college student who was going to need somewhere to stay while he was taking college classes.
“Where else was he going to go? I mean he had all of this equipment and all of this stuff, where was he going to go? He was going to have to pay rent, he was going to have to do all kinds of different things and that was just ridiculous in our minds,” Loffer said.
20-year-old Steven Rizzo was placed in the Loffer Family through Indiana Mentor’s adult foster care program.
Rizzo said he had been in multiple foster homes throughout his life, so he wasn’t sure what to expect upon meeting the Loffer family.
“We met in this exact room right here and I was like alright, I’m going to stay with them. I trust them. I feel like being with parents for so long I can tell when people are faking it or if they’re only in it for the money but I was like okay, they seem like they really care,” Rizzo said.
Loffer said taking him in was a no brainer for him and his family.
He said in a rural and smaller community like Vincennes, he is not sure where Rizzo would have ended up if they had not taken him in.
“I see kids every day, they’re not loved at home, they’re not loved at school, so what are they going to do? They’re going to end up in jail, they’re going to end up on the streets,” Loffer said.
Jackie Haddix, program director for Indiana Mentor Foster Care Agency, said the need for foster families is greater now than ever before.
“Every day we take in, just in this area, approximately 30-60 children, and unfortunately those kids are often times placed outside of their home area, they have to change schools, they have to start all new,” Haddix said.
Since moving in with the Loffers, Rizzo said he is applying to multiple colleges in surrounding areas to become an audio engineer.
To any child who is struggling or currently in the foster care system, Rizzo offered this piece of advice.
“I would say don’t give up. No matter how bad it is, as long as you’re living and breathing, life still goes on. The fact that you’re living right now, that’s what you should appreciate because life gets better,” Rizzo said.
To become a foster parent, Haddix said you must be at least 21 years old, pass a background check, and have a home that will be safe for a child.
If you are unable to foster but still want to help, Haddix said there are a number of things that you can do.
“You can become a tutor for a child, you can sponsor a child for a period of time, you can send birthday cards. I know there’s kids here locally placed in residential facilities that never get a birthday card, that never get a gift, they don’t receive anything. They don’t have anyone to come visit them and play checkers with them,” Haddix said.
To learn more about Indiana Mentor and other ways you can help kids in foster care, you can do so by clicking here.