MAUMEE, Ohio — There are more than 1,000 kids in the Lucas County foster care system, but only about 200 foster families able to care for them.
Since May is National Foster Care Awareness Month, Lucas County is celebrating its current families while looking for more.
Since the county is only able to place about 20% of children in its care into foster homes, Sherry Dunn, a public information officer with Lucas County Children Services, said they're doing the best they can with the resources they have.
Dunn is even working to revitalize a program called "One Church, One Child," where they ask all faith organizations to support one foster family or encourage one of their members to foster. Dunn said they're also looking for specific families.
"We need dads too," Dunn said. "Single dads, coupled dads, married dads, we really have a need for dads."
At the Chesser home in Maumee, all 10 kids love foster dad Jeremy. He said the family got as big as it is through a blessing, already having had two biological children and becoming an adoptive parent to two children.
And Chesser got the call for more.
"If you're calling me for four. Why not all six? They're like, 'Well that's a lot, Mr. Chesser.' I said, 'Oh, I'm well aware. Don't separate these kids,'" Chesser said.
He and his wife, Teesha, started fostering back in 2017. It's not an easy job, he said, but parenting never is. The easiest way to look at fostering is to remember who all the work is for.
"It might be downright the most selfless thing you have to do in your life," Chesser said.
The Chesser family is not your typical foster family since they have taken in such a large number of kids. But both Dunn and Chesser said no one has to be a hero parent and take on so many kids. Just one sometimes can be enough.
Dunn also said the low number of foster families, is in part, due to retirement.
"Many of our foster parents we've had for a long period of time," Dunn said. "A lot of our newer foster parents are coming in. These foster parents are adopting and once they adopt, they're closing their homes."
Families are needed. Tthe Chessers will be busy for quite a while, having preschool-aged kids all the way up to high school kids. The home is full of snacks, books, sports bags and love.
"We ended up with a sibling group of six two years ago, June 8th, 2021, and we just got matched," Chesser said. "We'll be moving toward adoption over the next three months. We will be a permanent family of 12."
Pre-service training to become a foster parent starts in person on June 5 at 9 a.m. For more information, click here.