EL PASO, Texas - After suffering abuse or neglect, children across the country are sometime left without families and end up in the foster care system. It's no different in El Paso, where there's a dire need for families willing to step up to the plate.
Claudia Castillo is a foster mother who took her son in, Samuel, when he was only 7 months old.
"When they enter, they're very timid, you struggle to gain their confidence but little by little, living with them, the bond is strengthened, and they have more confidence in you," Castillo said.
Samuel's biological mother was unable to care for him because of drug problems. Her rights were terminated and after two years, Claudia officially adopted Samuel and his older brother. She's fostering another child now.
"In reality, to give them a place to stay, give them the comfort of a family and that they know there is happiness inside a home," Castillo said.
There are hundreds more children like Samuel in the El Paso foster care system. Veronica Lowenberg, the foster care director at the El Paso Center for Children, said they get between five to 10 requests a week from Child Protective Services to place children.
"Where we're running into a problem locally is there are not enough foster homes to provide temporary housing for these children and so oftentimes we have to send them out of state," Lowenberg said.
Lowenberg says they get hundreds of inquires from potential parents, but some are scared off after learning of past abuse.
They're not alone, families get support and training from CPS and agencies to help guide them through difficult times.
While it may not be easy, foster-care officials say it's worth it.
"I can't imagine what it would be like to suffer abuse in your home and then be removed form your home and then have to live in a complete stranger's home they're coming into care through no fault of their home," Lowenberg said.
"There are so many children who need a home, who need to know what the love of a family feels like, and quite frankly, if we don't give them the opportunity,t hose kids will grow up alone, homeless and what they need is the guidance from a mother, a father, siblings," Castillo said.
If you're interested in becoming a foster parent, you can contact the following agencies:
El Paso Center for Children (915) 565-5021
Department of Family Protective Services (915) 521-3961
Lee & Beulah Moor Children's Home (915) 544-8777
A World for Children (915) 781-3330
Children's Hope (915) 881-1980
Upbring Foster in Texas (915) 598-5410