VENTURA, Calif. -- “Homes with Heart Ventura County” needs families to provide temporary homes for children in the foster care system during the pandemic.
Natalie and Fernando Torres have opened their home to children in the Ventura County foster care system since 1995.
“They come in our home scared, lost, who knows all those feeling that they must have you know going through all the initial trauma of being removed, and they leave happier, they leave feeling protected,” said Natalie Torres.
The couple ended up adopting three children they fostered. The kids eventually grew up and moved out.
“His room became available and our youngest son, the one thing he said was well "you guys saved me",” said Fernando Torres. “You guys should start saving other children.”
Seven years ago, the Torres family went back to fostering kids, but this time as an Emergency Shelter home.
“In the last seven years, we have had close to over 100 children come through our home,” said Fernando Torres.
Right now, Homes with Heart Ventura County is asking for more families to open their home, just like the Torres family.
“We are in need of Emergency Shelter Homes,” said Jaci Johnson, who is the program coordinator at Ventura County Children Family Services Homes With Heart. “As of a month ago we had just one. Now we have a couple of others that have joined us.”
Emergency Shelter Homes provide temporary housing for children and teenagers. The organization is hoping to have at least 10 of these homes.
“They provide care for a child anywhere from 1-60 days and during this time it gives us an opportunity to work with the biological families to help strengthen them and provide them support, because our first priority is re-unification,” said Johnson.
“A lot of the time they just want some food in their stomach, and roof over their head and a warm bed,” said Fernando Torres. “Besides that there are countless resources out there that are willing to help.”
The organization provides special training, a monthly stipend and supplies.
“They are kids, they are human beings that are hurting,” said Natalie Torres. “And the misconception because they are in foster care they are bad kids is just not correct.”
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