ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- There are more than 5,000 foster children in Virginia right now, and a couple of local groups are looking for more families to help.
One family in Albemarle County has been fostering children for more than two decades, and they shared some of the benefits.
Patty and Roger Gonzalez say raising foster children is no different from raising your own kids.
They say it is the special bonds they have formed over the years that last a lifetime.
When the Gonzalez family first moved to Albemarle County in 1993, they started babysitting so their young son could have some playmates.
"I didn't really want to leave him in a new state and we didn't know anybody," said Patty. "I really didn't to put him in care with anyone else but me."
Something was still missing from their small family, so a few years later, they decided to become foster parents.
"The same love you give your own child, you give to your foster child because they become part of your family," said Roger.
The Gonzalez family has raised several children over the years, but they have a lot of memories from a girl they looked after for 11 years.
"She will visit her parents but still call us mom and dad, so it's very special," said Roger.
They say it was not always easy, but when it was time for her to return to her birth family, they always felt like they left a positive influence.
"It's a challenge at times but you when you get to the end it's a great feeling that you've accomplished the goal," said Roger.
Community Attention Foster Families wants other families to accomplish that goal.
Recently, it put on a display of bluebirds which represent the number of children currently in foster care.
"If we have families that are struggling it means the kids struggle and it just keeps repeating that cycle if we can't wrap our arms around these guys and give them the support they need," said Marnie Allen, with Community Attention Foster Families.
This is something the Gonzalez family says makes all of the difference with fostering children.
"I think this really helped because this is the next generation and they need to be taught well, loved, and cared for so they can do positive things," said Patty.
The support for foster families and organizations is critical.
Tuesday on CBS19 News at Six, we will take a deeper look into changes being made on a state level to support the children that come out of the system.