Foster Awareness in Washoe County - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Have A Heart Kiosk Hopes to Improve Foster Care Numbers in Washoe County

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At any given time, there are more than 900 children in foster care across Washoe County, according to Stacey Lance with the county's Human Services Agency.  Those children are in need of not only a roof over their heads, but a warm, loving family, to call their own. 

Mary and Larry Sondgroth retired 20 years ago and enjoy a quiet life in their south Reno neighborhood, but six years into retirement, they decided to spend their golden years a little different than most.

That's when they answered their calling to foster care. Mary says, "We heard there was a huge need, so we just thought, one baby. Well the rest was history."

Since becoming licensed in 2002, they've fostered more than two dozen children, mostly infants, with special needs. But they fell in love and took it a step further. “We ended up adopting 3 kids from foster care,” said Mary.

Their two daughters, now high school students, and their now eight-year-old son, were all fostered by them since infancy.

Mary expresses her continued gratitude, “We were lucky that we have been able to be there for them the whole time. It's just amazing to see how brilliant these kids are and how they recover."

 Currently, the Sondgroths are fostering a six-month-old baby girl. Now, they have a message for the rest of the community: there are so many wonderful kids just like those they foster (and adopt) in need of the same loving, supportive home. 

With hundreds of kids in foster care across Washoe County, there are not enough foster homes to house even half of them.

But a new outreach tool from the Adoption Exchange of Nevada hopes to improve those numbers. It's called the Have a Heart Kiosk.

Currently, it's located in the lobby of the South Reno Library. It displays the faces of the kids who are most in need of foster parents.

Jessica Hartwig, Family Services Coordinator with the Adoption Exchange of Nevada explains, “The kids in care that are of school age, sibling groups, medically fragile, have higher needs, they're just generally harder to place.” 

The library location was strategically chosen in hopes of catching the eyes of families who already have kids or are interested in adding to their families.

To take it from folks like the Sondgroths, while it may not always be easy--Mary explains with a laugh, "Oh it's crazy, my husband is in his 70's and he is 'Dad's Taxi,'"--it's certainly worth it.

Larry expressed his happiness with the decision he and his wife made 14 years ago, “I wouldn't change anything we've done, not at all."

To learn more about the children available for foster and adoption in Washoe County, click here.

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