Foster families getting help after Hurricane Michael

Published: Oct. 31, 2018 at 9:32 PM CDT
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They say they're a team and do whatever it takes. Lately what it takes is creative juggling.

"We have no office so nothing is left. So, no office space to perch at or to work from," said the Life Management Center of Northwest Florida's Foster Family Support Program Director Cathy Harcus.

The staff, which usually works out of the Life Management Center in Panama City, is now working mostly out of their cars.

"We're in our car traveling to foster homes," said Harcus. "We have no means of communication, no internet connection, but we are making sure their needs are met."

Harcus told NewsChannel 7/Local 18 News many of her nine staff members lost their own homes... but came back immediately after the storm had passed to assist foster families.

"Anything that happened to you in Bay County or surrounding counties happened to our foster families," said Harcus. "Imagine having a kid in your home that doesn't belong to you and you're learning this child, parenting this child, while not having your basic needs."

Foster Family Liaison and foster mom Taryn Tasker doesn't have to imagine she's living that reality.

"We lost our home in the storm," explained Tasker. "It's not livable. So we actually had to evacuate with our foster daughter to Daphne, Alabama."

Coming back home and seeing the destruction firsthand wasn't easy for them or their foster child.

"Foster children thrive on normalcy and routine," said Tasker. "It's very healing for them and so it's very tough to walk already traumatized children through a very traumatic event and at the same time yourself walking through your own personal trauma."

Staff members are putting their own personal needs aside for the time being and helping the ones they say are the most selfless people they know their foster families.

"We're looking for rentals for them, for places for them to stay, cleaning supplies, gas cards. Whatever they need at the moment that's what we're doing," said Harcus.

"Not everyone chooses to do foster care," said Tasker. "But if you can find a foster family and help them in any way possible, it is more appreciated than you will ever know."