YARMOUTH, Maine — There is an urgent need for more foster parents in Maine.

Currently, there are more children in foster care here than the number of foster homes available. So that means many foster families are caring for more than one child.

By streamlining the home inspection process and improving in-home clinical support, the Department of Health and Human Services has launched new initiatives to help current and new foster parents.

Meanwhile, one local family, very familiar with the process, is doing their part to help other families like them.

Bre Morrill is one of eight siblings. She and her brothers and sisters are so close, you would never know some were in foster care before they were adopted.

"Our mom has always wanted to start a foster care loan closet that's where anyone can donate clothes, really anything," said Morrill. "So any foster kid who needs any clothes can come and grab clothes and return for the next size."

When Morrill and her sisters realized this summer they had a real talent for making hair scrunchies they decided to make more, to make the money needed to fund their mom's dream.

"I saw Bre Bre like on the table like sewing and I wanted to help," said 6-year-old Kaitlynn. "I just noticed she was actually making scrunchies!"

Scrunchie
Bre Morrill and her sisters are making and selling scrunchies to create a foster family clothing loan closet.
NCM

They had the sewing machine and got the fabric. All they needed next was a name for the foster care loan closet.

And that's when it clicked for Bre at an unlikely place: a Shawn Mendes concert. He was performing his song, "Never Be Alone."

"It just hit home because they didn't have very much when they came here," said Morrill. "Maria came with the clothes she was wearing from the hospital and a car seat."

Morrill and her sisters know the words and sing while they make scrunchies. Inspired by the lyrics they decided to name the loan closet,  A Piece of My Heart.

Simple lyrics with so much meaning for these sisters, and simple scrunchies helping to make a big impact on foster families statewide.

A CLOSER LOOK AT FOSTER CARE IN MAINE

As of mid-August, Maine had 2,201 children in care and 1,349 licensed foster homes, according to Maine Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Jackie Farwell.

Right now, she says there is "an urgent need for families who can parent adolescents and teenagers, sibling groups with more than two children, and infants born affected by drugs or alcohol."

In Maine, foster parents receive reimbursement based on the child’s level of need, with the average rate amounting to approximately $35 per day. Foster parents may also receive additional reimbursements to cover the cost of items such as clothing and diapers.

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