NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – More children are entering the foster care system, but fewer families are taking them in. Officials say the need to foster teenagers in South Carolina is great and growing.

“Traditionally people want younger kids and so it’s so much harder to place older kids,” said Deanna Bookert, a recruiter for the National Youth Advocate Program.

Right now, 57 teenagers are in foster care across the Lowcountry, but not all of them have a place to call home.

“There’s a lot of loving teens that need the loving home and stability and so we do have much older preteens and teenagers that are currently in care,” said Bookert.

She said finding foster homes for teenagers is a challenge.

“You have those families that say hey yes, we can take a six-year-old or we can take a seven-year-old, but then you have that teen left that says hey what about me,” said Bookert.

If you can’t foster a child long-term there are other ways you can help.

“We have kids that come into care in the middle of the night. We have kids that come into care where we just need placement for 24 hours. We need placement for just a week,” said Bookert.

Those short-term stays are what’s called respite care.

“The biggest thing is, you know, are you able to open your heart and your home to a child in need, and if you can say yes to that everything else we can work through,” said Bookert.

Whether you’re providing temporary, long-term, or permanent care groups like the National Youth Advocate Program need help.

“Once you come to that place you come with a team, so there’s a recruiter, there’s a coordinator that helps that family through that process and gathering that needed paperwork and go through that training to get them to the point to their home is ready to receive a child,” said Bookert.

For information on how you can become a foster parent click here.