WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — The North Country is currently facing a shortage of foster parents and families.

This is an issue being tackled by the Children’s Home of Jefferson County, a therapeutic foster care organization that services Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego and St. Lawrence counties.

According to CHJC Director of Children’s Services Victoria Peck, the need spans all age groups, from infants to age 21 who are put into the foster care system through the Department of Social Services.

“We have a number of children that come into care in need of loving homes that are willing to take care of them and their siblings,” Peck explained. “When a local DSS places a youth with us, they hope that we have an identified family to keep that youth safe and sound.”

The Children’s Home works with foster families to provide both long and short-term services to youth who are unable to remain with their biological families.

Individuals must first be certified to become foster parents, and then are required to attend ongoing training and participate with the organization.

However, the main goal of the Children’s Home foster program is to reunite children with their birth families.

“It’s important that we as a program and every one of our resources believes in our birth parents and believes in change so our children can be reunited as soon as possible,” Peck shared.

This is a process that hits close to home for the Children’s Home CEO Dr. Marianne DiMatteo, who was put into foster care when she was 15 years old. After spending over 100 days in a shelter, a foster family took a chance on her and her brother.

“Being able to provide that love and support for a child that does not have another option is one of the most rewarding opportunities that I have heard individuals say they have been able to do and blessed to do for children,” Dr. DiMatteo explained.

To address the need for foster parents in the area, the Children’s Home of Jefferson County is hosting several upcoming community events for prospective families.

A full list of events can be found on the CHJC website.