Nearly 100 children in foster care were served by the Person County Department of Social Services in April 2019 compared to 71 children served in 2018.
Kristy Terry, a Foster Care and Adoption Supervisor for DSS, blames substance abuse and neglect as the primary reasons why children fall under the care of DSS custody.
DSS is required to place the child in some form of placement, whether it is with a family member, a licensed foster care home or an agency for children with specialized needs.
“The children on our case load are placed somewhere. At at any given time, things could be where a child needs placement. You never know. It is day to day,” said DSS Services Program Manager Antoinetta Cash Royster.
May is National Foster Care Month. Its purpose is to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, policymakers and child welfare professionals, highlighting the roles they play in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care.
Terry believes people can best serve the community by giving back to the next generation.
“Children are our next workforce, they are our next leaders, they are our future. If you are giving back to your community by showing them a different way of life, they are not in a neglectful situation. You are showing them unconditional (love), not that their parents aren’t doing it but you are showing them stability and consistency and how that can be productive,” Terry said.
A Person County family has decided to do just that by sprinkling a little love and extended their family from six to 10.
“If you would have told me 20 years ago, that we would have 10 children, I would have told you that you lost your mind,” said Jane Sprinkle.
Before fostering, Jane Sprinkle and her husband Jimmy Sprinkle of Roxboro shared six children between them, Jane had three of her own and so did Jimmy.
The Sprinkles were at a time in their lives where their children were grown, they were keeping the grandchildren and close to retiring before they thought about becoming foster parents.
“I had always wanted to be a foster parent but I really thought at that point in my life, I was 62 and getting ready to retire. I didn’t think that I would be able to do that because I thought there was a limitation on the ages and at that time there was not a limitations on the age,” said Jane Sprinkle.
When the Sprinkles learned in 2011 there was no age limitation on becoming a foster parent, they went through the year process of taking the classes and getting their license.
In 2012, the Sprinkles became foster parents.
“When we took the class there were a lot of older ladies in there that were already foster parents and they would allow you to meet them and you could ask them questions. Some of them had as many as 40 children come through their home,” said Jane Sprinkle.
The Sprinkles assumed that they would be in a similar situation and would only be fostering but a phone call on a Friday afternoon changed their trajectory.
“We turned around to get the phone and then it was one of our representatives and they said we have some children for you and we will be there in 20 minutes,” said Jane Sprinkle.
The Sprinkles had three children ages 11, 9 and 3 come into their home on that day. A fourth child who was 4 years old came into the home that following Monday.
The Sprinkles had no plans to adopt but years down the road that would change.
“We thought that we were just probably going to get foster children, but after the two weeks when we got our license, the first children we got were these children. It just worked out that way. I never dreamed that the first children we got that we would adopt. We just thought we would be opening up our home to 30 or 40 children,” said Jane Sprinkle.
It took the Sprinkles almost six years to complete the adoption process.
During this time, the Sprinkles brought other foster children into their home on a short-term basis.
The Sprinkles babysat for other foster parents either on weekends, nights or for emergencies.
“It was off and on for a while,” said Jane Sprinkle.
After keeping the four children for nearly three years, the court decided that it was not safe for the children to return home, so the children were placed for adoption.
Although the Sprinkles desired to find the children a similar or better home, they realized they were the best fit.
“Had there been a younger couple that were willing to take on four children that I felt good about I might would have thought about letting them go more. However, I did not see a couple like that and in the end I just decided that ... I didn’t really feel like it would be a better fit for them,” said Jane Sprinkle.
The Sprinkles became the adoptive parents of the four children in August 2017.
Since adopting, the Sprinkles have started new traditions with raising four children and have a full house for Christmas but the couple counts it as a blessing.
“These children have been more of a blessing to us than we have been to them,” said Jane Sprinkle.
To learn more about becoming a foster parent, call Person County Department of Social Services, check Person County Foster Parents Facebook page for the training schedule or visit adoptuskids.org.