There are over 400 children in Madison County that are in the foster care system, but less than 200 foster homes according to the Madison County Foster and Adoptive Association (MCFAPA).
WAAY 31 has learned the pandemic put a strain on the foster care system, making it harder to get more eligible families to foster and get them the resources. The pandemics isolated everyone in one way or another, and it's made it harder to have events like the "Bros, Bows, and Boos" fundraiser for foster and adoptive families.
Thomas Billig told WAAY 31 that having these events again really helps connect families and gives parents the resources and support they need through the ups and downs.
“When, you know, me and my wife can interact with another foster family and, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so frustrated with this,’ or, ‘This has been so hard,’ and the other one may be like, ‘Hey, this is who we use. This is the doctor that may help.’ That, that is one of the big things that also gets us through is the interaction with other foster parents," said Billig.
Billig and his wife have fostered 30 kids so far. They ended up adopting five of the kids.
“There’s just so many of them out there, there’s just so much need to love these children and that’s really why we do it," said Billig.
MCFAPA's annual event is aimed at bringing more awareness to foster care, kinship care and adoption, as well as providing hair care resources for families.
The "Bros, Bows, and Boos," event offers free haircuts for children. Donations from the fundraiser, as well as their "Drop your Drawers" donation drive will go to the Department of Human Resources.
"I know of no foster, no successful foster family that doesn’t rely on the community and these organizations, and so without these organizations, we really wouldn’t do well as foster families," said Billig.
He said one of the best aspects of these events is that they also allow people to see that the foster kids are no different.
"It brings the community to see that these kids are loved in these homes, and the stigma that you see on tv about foster homes goes away because you see that these are just normal kids that have had a hard life and need someone to love them," he said.
The event was free through sponsorships and contributions from the community. This fundraiser has raised over $17,000.