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Porter-Leath says there's a great need for foster parents in Shelby County

There are 8,800 children in Tennessee's foster care system, according to Porter-Leath. 1,100 of them are kids in Shelby County.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Porter-Leath is looking for safe and loving homes to consider becoming foster parents. They said the need for more fosters is high in Shelby County.

According to Porter-Leath, there are more than 8,800 children in Tennessee's foster care system and 1,100 of them are kids in Shelby County.

The greatest need is for foster families that welcome sibling groups and teenagers, Porter-Leath said.

“We really need someone to mold them and mentor them, and trying to get them prepared for living independently once they age out of the system," Lisa Arnold, Porter-Leath foster family recruiter and trainer, said.

Arnold said they've recently got a lot of sibling groups. Keeping siblings together is a priority, she said.

Marilyn and Brandon Doggett, who have one child of their own, became foster parents in February of 2020 to two toddler siblings: a boy and a girl.

“We both have experience being in foster families," Marilyn Doggett said. "Both of our parents fostered.”

She said since taking in the siblings they've noticed a remarkable difference and improvement in their well-being.

“In every area whether we’re looking at behavioral, social interaction skills," she said. "The 3-year-old, when she arrived to us she was 22-months-old, she was non-verbal, she was non-ambulatory and within a couple of months she learned how to walk. She’s talking and you hear her now, her sentences, she can speak beautifully.”

Porter-Leath said foster parents provide children in need life-changing stability during a difficult time in that child's life.

“It makes a tremendous difference," Arnold said. "In spite of all the things that may have gone wrong with them, as far as being mistreated, we’re going to add positive experiences in their lives and make them feel loved and cared for in this family.”

For the Doggetts, who are both educators, they've seen the instability of a child's life jumping from home to home in their classrooms. So being able to provide stability for the two foster children is a rewarding experience.

“They’ve been with us for over a year now," Brandon Doggett said. "Just that stability and it’s not something that’s just rewarding for us but rewarding for those children. That’s all they know at this point. Just to be stable and they’re part of our family. They’ve been with us longer than they’ve been alive at this point.”

Once an applicant has been approved, they will complete TN KEY (Knowledge Empowers You). KEY is Porter-Leath’s training program to help meet the needs of foster children, understand their feelings of loss, and identify parenting strategies for success.

To learn more about how to become a Porter-Leath foster parent, please contact Lisa Arnold at (901) 577-2500 ext. 1179.

Find more on Porter-Leath HERE.