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      Amarillo foster mom encourages others to open doors, hearts

      In 2011, there were 581 children and teenagers in foster care in Amarillo. 270 children and teenagers were rescued from abuse or neglect and placed in foster care.

      Those numbers are what's troubling many several Panhandle foster agencies -- there aren't enough foster homes for those children. Arrow Child and Family Ministries is a Christian Foster Care and Adoption ministry in Amarillo that's also actively searching for more families to open their doors to foster children.

      "There's a consistent need of families that are willing to step up, open their hearts, their homes to theses kiddos who just need someone to love them and support them through this tough time in their life," said Arrow's Panhandle State Director, Keith Howard.

      Although the need isn't any greater than an average year, Howard said, the need for more and more foster homes is still there. He also said the reason many people shy away from fostering are because of reasons like money, space and even timing. Reasons all too familiar to Amarillo mother Kandy Carnes.

      "We had talked about it for several years and the timing just wasn't ever right," she said.

      But earlier this year, after Carnes husband volunteer at an Arrow event, she changed her mind.

      "The Bible tells you to take care of the orphans and take care of the widows," Carnes said. "Think about when you were having your children. If you waited to have children until the time was right, until you had the money you were supposed to or the job you were supposed to, well then we'd all wait forever," she added. "A lot of these kids don't want to wait forever."

      The Carnes now foster two young girls, sisters, ages nine and nearly three. After having all three of her own children grown and out of the house, Carnes said it's been quite a change having young children around the house again.

      "It's been a challenge going back and remembering that they are little guys when I'm useed to a teenager running around doing her thing," laughed Carnes.

      Although it's a challenge, it's one Carnes said she knew it was one she was meant to accept, and one that she wished more people would take on.

      "More people need to say I can do this," she said. "It doesn't take a lot of time and it sure doesn't take any effort to fill your heat with their love and give them love back."

      T o foster a child, you'll need to contact Arrow, or another Panhandle agency and go through that agencies training process. Each family will then have to be CPR/First Air Certified, get background checks, have home health and fire inspections and TB tests.