The need for care is high in Southwest Florida for foster parents. The local Children's Network says the number of children who are in desperate need for foster care is rising.
Children in the foster care system have suffered from trauma. The goal is for each abused child to be in a temporary safe place to live until they can be reunited with his or her family.
The number of children willing to offer that love, attention, and support isn't there and the number of children needing homes keeps rising.
There are currently more than 1,500 foster children in Southwest Florida and the numbers are expected to rise.
"We have a desperate need for foster home," Nadareh Salim, CEO of Children's Network said. "More kids are coming into care - all ages - we see a large population of children 0 to 5."
The children are removed from their home, taken away from their birth parents, because of abuse or inadequate care and placed into foster care or kinship care.
The state tries to place children with relatives first because the adjustment may be easier for the family and child but that isn't always the case. The number of children entering the foster care system has significantly gone up within the past two years.
"We started seeing numbers like 27 and 30 percent increase of children in foster homes," Nadareh said.
Experts say the opioid epidemic is to blame.
"It's ever present and growing in our community. It's an unfortunate reality," she said.
Foster care numbers flow from day to day but the latest data shows there are more than 50 children ready for adoption today. In a five county area, experts say there is a dire ned for foster parents specifically for infants, toddlers, and school-aged kids.
"We're always recruiting for families that are willing to open their homes and love these kids and take care of them," she said.
While adopting and fostering is the goal, The Children's Network is also looking for mentors to be a positive influence in the lives of children in Southwest Florida. For more information, click here.