By Rebecca Sheir
Several thousand young people in the region live in foster care. One group is using social networking to recruit more parents and keep up with the demand.
Three years ago, when Kaari Vasquez and her husband, Lee, decided to foster children in Alexandria, Virginia, their friends had doubts.
"A lot of them often asked us, 'But don't you get attached?,'" recalls Kaari. "'How do you do that?'"
And the Vasquezes, who have since fostered six children, would answer: 'Yes, we do get attached.'
"That's the point," she says. "If we experience loss, it's worth it, because every child deserves to be loved to the fullest."
That's why the Freddie Mac Foundation is launching an online resource center: to encourage discussion, and recruit parents for the regions 4,500 foster children.
The foundation's Vice President, Margaret Meiers, says she thinks it's sad that fewer than half that number of foster families have opened their homes to provide these children with the shelter, love and caring they so desperately need.
At a kick-off event for the online center, the Vasquezes received a Foster Parent of the Year award. Lee Vasquez says some families don't want to give up time and money for foster children, "but for us, I think it has just changed our lives," he says.
Not to mention, he says, the lives of the young people they've fostered.