Gerald Waters became a foster parent 14 years ago.
Since then he has adopted 3 of the children he has fostered.
"It's hard. We get attached,” said Gerald Waters, a foster parent. “They're our children, but we get to see them go forward."
The average foster child stays with a family for nine months.
But, Waters says he still stays in touch with many of the children, through proms, graduations, even weddings.
Wednesday, local social services agencies held a recruitment pep rally at Bay County High School to thank people like Waters.
"It's really focused on energizing our child welfare community," Courtney Peel, with the Florida Department of Children & Families.
There are currently 173 foster children in the system in Bay and four surrounding counties, but there area only 73 licensed foster homes.
"So, obviously the number of homes we have available and the number of children needing homes don't match up," said Kristine Kwiathowski with Life Management Center.
If children cannot be placed in local homes, they are sent to other parts of the state.
"They have to go somewhere,” said Kwiathowski. “These kids are being removed no matter what, the question is, are you going to give them a home or not?"
So, Wednesday’s pep rally also served as a way to introduce others to foster parenting and hopefully recruit them into the system.
"Anyone, single to married, can be a foster parent, because everyone knows how to give love."
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent or learning more you can contact the Life Management Center.
That number is 866-769-9481.