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Urgent need for families willing to foster sibling sets

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Posted at 9:47 PM, Apr 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-26 23:47:49-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- The Utah Foster Care Foundation is in need of foster families who are willing to take in sets of siblings.

Keeping siblings together has always been a priority, but in recent weeks, an unforeseen surge in sets of siblings needing placement is testing resources.

"We are seeing this need not only in the Salt Lake area, which is the area I cover, but all throughout the state," said Dan Webster of the Utah Foster Care Foundation.

Currently there are 2,700 children in Utah in the Foster Care system, and fewer than 1,300 families approved to host them.

In the last month, Webster said, 10 new sets of siblings have entered the system in Salt Lake County alone. They range from sets of two siblings up to seven siblings.

Erik Churcher, once a foster child himself, told FOX 13 News that when he went into the system at age 6, the separation from his siblings was traumatic. He was one of four siblings made up of two girls and two boys, which were initially split between two foster homes by gender.

"There's kind of a piece of you that's broken," Churcher recalled.

He said he sometimes acted up as a child, out of frustration caused by the separation. He and his siblings were all reunited in one foster home, about a year and a half after they entered the system, and were soon all adopted.

"The actual being together and living together again was phenomenal," Churcher said.

Dan Webster said keeping siblings in foster care together is essential to their long-term success.

"That is the one relationship you will have your whole life. They're with you around the time your born, and long before you gain a spouse, or your parents pass away, this is the most enduring relationship you'll have on this earth," he said.

Webster said many people who would make great foster parents assume they wouldn't meet the Utah Foster Care Foundation's qualifications -- for example, many assume they must own their own home or be married to qualify.

However, Webster says these are myths.

He is hoping that anyone interested in becoming a foster parent will contact him by phone, or at least learn more about foster care at Utahfostercare.org.