A rising number of children in foster care

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UPSHUR COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV) - West Virginia has over 6,500 children in foster care, with only 1,300 foster families.

"If you do the math, obviously, those numbers are pretty staggering and they're pretty far apart, so the need for foster families is critical at this point," says Communications Outreach Director for Mission West Virginia Kylee Hassan.

Compared to last year, these numbers have skyrocketed, and there is one reason for that.

"We are jumping about 1,000 children in care in a year and mainly that number is due to the drug epidemic," says Hassan.

The math doesn't add up in Upshur County either, with only 12 foster families and over 100 children.

"We are foster parents to three children, we have legal guardianship over a fourth and then we have two biological children, but I think we're just parents," says foster parent Jennifer Whetzel.

The Whetzel's became foster parents in April of 2015, after only having two children of their own and with father time knocking at the door, Tom and Jennifer decided that fostering was the best choice of having that big family they always wanted.

"There's challenges, there's rewards, there's a little bit of everything so, I don't know, you just have to work your way through it," says foster parent, Tom Whetzel.

The Whetzel's foster teenagers, not only does it fit the age group of their biological children, but the need is especially there.

"There's a lot of people that want the younger kids, the younger babies, of course, there's a huge need for the teenagers," says Tom Whetzel.

"Families like this one provide an open home for children to come in and they provide that loving, stable environment and that's so important and it helps us out," says Hassan.

Jennifer says that providing a safe and loving home for each child is just what being a parent is about, and with each new teen that's brought in to the Whetzel home, the goal is always the same.

"That's always our goal, is to just, especially with teenagers, make sure that they're going to be successful," says Jennifer Whetzel.