Leelani Voightland knows a lot about foster care. She grew up with foster siblings, fostered her own children and now is a home finder with Berkshire Farm to help place children with families.
"There is never going to be a perfect time," says Voightland, who says she has fostered 16 kids so far. "So you know, the perfect time is now. If you are ready and you think this is something you can do we can help you."
Sullivan County says its foster care program is in "a state of crisis," and the county is facing a problem officials say they haven't seen since the 1990s - a lack of enough foster care families to meet the need. The number of children in need of foster care grew 20 percent over the last three months.
"Unfortunately, a lot of that is due to the opioid and the drug crisis that has brought a lot of kids in," said Robert Kuhn, Deputy Commissioner of Sullivan County Department of Family Services.
The county partnered with agencies like Berkshire Farm to help recruit foster care families from all backgrounds in all parts of the county, taking to social media to find new families.
"When children come into care, they lose everything," Voigtland said. "Even if it wasn't the best situation it's their situation, it's their room it's their community, it's their teachers. And they lose it all."
Advocates say the goal is to keep the child as close to home as possible.
"They're in the community they grew up in, they're in the community they went to school in or still going to school," Kuhn said. "The more they can keep them in the community they're from, they get better outcomes."
The need is especially high for families that can accommodate sibling groups or others in specific school districts, Kuhn and Voigtland say.
"If we can minimize a loss by letting them stay in their own community, it's wonderful," said Voigtland. "And, [to] not have to leave their school, which is probably a stable factor in their life, it's huge."
There is a process to becoming a foster care parent, including background checks, interviews, training and home visits. But they're looking for all types of foster parents from every background.
"People think, 'Oh, I can't do it.' You probably can," Voigtland said. "So if your heart is thinking about it, you know, now is the time. We just don't have enough homes, especially in Sullivan County."