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      Retired couple finds fulfillment in raising foster children

      There are 62,551 children in the foster care system in Texas and not enough foster homes.

      May is national foster care month and here in the valley some like Hazael and Carmen Guerrero are dedicating their lives to those children in need of a home.

      Hazael and Carmen Guerrero were ready to retire when they decided to become foster parents at Sunny Glen in Harlingen.

      At first they thought they couldn't do it, but three years later they have cared for over 27 children and aren't stopping anytime soon.

      We finished with that phase of our lives with our children and to come here and have those children, it has given us life, motivation and a purpose to keep going, Carmen Guerrero said.

      After 33 years of marriage and three children, they packed up and moved into a home in the Sunny Glen community to care for those children taken away from their families by the state.

      "We have had children that have been hurt morally, emotionally, physically and sexually," Carmen Guerrero said.

      Carmen Guerrero tells Action 4 News that the first three weeks were the hardest.

      She says that her husband and her were ready to pack up.

      However, she says that something in their hearts told them to stay.

      "You are sadden by the situation they are coming from and you tell them that what is in the past you can't change but we can make big changes for what is ahead," Carmen Guerrero said.

      Hazael and Carmen are still till this day in constant communication with the majority of the children they have cared and have gone back to their family.

      Right now in the Valley, there are more than 600 kids who claim the state as their parents.

      "When children are removed from their home their traumatized in terrible ways and the things that foster homes and group homes such as ours try to do first and foremost is to emphasize safety and to give security and to help children know they are loved and their cared about," Ray Crowder, Executive Director at Sunny Glen, said.

      Crowder says that when the state can TMt find family for those kids taken away from their parents, they are left at Child Protective Services (CPS) offices or emergency shelters until an opening comes up in a foster home.

      "You can make a powerful difference in a child's life, Crowder said. It TMs a way of showing children that they are truly cared about; they are truly valued to our society as a whole. The need is so great and for people that hear the cries of children and meet those needs, it TMs a tremendous mission that anybody can play."

      He adds that foster care is beneficial for not only the children but the parents of those children.

      Foster care is not just for the child themselves but it TMs also so that their families can do what they need to do, Crowder said. To get prepared to receive that child back but to do some things different so that they don TMt get in trouble with the state again.

      South Texas College in Weslaco will be hosting a recruitment meeting on May 19th for those interested in learning more about foster care and becoming a foster parent.