CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, S.C. -- Officials in Chesterfield County are looking for several families to open their hearts and homes to foster children.

The recruitment blitz is part of a public awareness campaign to show specific needs in towns, school district boundaries and zip codes.

“We are trying really hard to keep children close to home,” said Paula Richardson, Regional Director over Chesterfield County. “When a child comes into foster care, their whole world changes. If we can keep them close to home, in the same county, they can stay in the same school, the same church and the same activities. It is so important to helping them keep some sense of normalcy.”

Foster families provide children with a safe and nurturing environment when they can no longer live at home, and no other relative can care for them.

“When people see what the needs look like in their own community, they better understand the importance of everyone stepping up to help our children,” Richardson said.

Most children come into the foster care system with at least one sibling, so there is a specific need in Chesterfield County for families who can accommodate more than one child.

“If we can keep siblings together, it’s better for everyone,” Richardson said. “They support each other, and that helps the healing process.”

So what does it take to become a foster parent? For starters, you have to demonstrate the ability to care for a child, attend training, undergo a background check and have a home inspection. It takes about four months to get licensed, and you don't have to be married or own your home.

If you're interested in starting the process to become a foster parent, call Heartfelt Calling at 888-828-3555 or go to this website.