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National Foster Care Month: One foster family shares their story

May is National Foster Care month and the State's Department of Children and Families decided to honor those children and their foster parents.

On Friday, families first network employees served lunch to foster kids and their parents at the Knights of Columbus Hall in downtown Pensacola.
More than 750 children are currently in foster care in Northwest Florida.
They're divided between just 400 approved foster homes.

One family shared their story with Channel 3's Kavontae Smalls.

Anthony and Julie Secchiari have three kids of their own. They've adopted three more and to their credit, they've fostered more than 100 children, and counting.

Julie, "It's such a huge blessing, it's rewarding, and it's added so much joy to our lives."

The Secchiaris feel they've found their calling in life since becoming foster parents 20 years ago.
They feel foster children are a special group that need love, stability and a sense of safety.

Being a foster parent brings a lot of joyous moments many parents only get to experience a handful of times. Like a baby's first steps or teaching a teenager how to drive.

Anthony, "Most people get to do it maybe four or five times depending on how many children you have, we've done it countless times."

Speaking of teenagers, the Secchiaris say fostering older children can be challenging because they bring their own set of personalities and experiences into the home.
But it's the older children who are harder to place, and need help most.

Perhaps the most difficult moments come when it's time for foster children to be reunited with their families.

Anthony, "You do feel lost from that, but that is your sacrifice. That's the sacrifice you give to these kids, and they carry that with them and that's woven into their whole life from that point forward."

Because the need for foster parents is so great, the Secchiaris want people to know just about anyone can become a foster parent.

Julie, "It doesn't take a special person, it does it take a person that truly knows how to love."

And that love oftentimes carries over well into adulthood.

Julie, "A lot of children stay in contact a lot of the younger children we've had their families will still stay in contact."

There's a huge need for foster parents in Northwest Florida.

If you're interested in becoming a foster parent or just want information.
Log onto our website and click news links.