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CHICAGO – A proud Chicago mother of four, who was an empty nester, decided to open up her home to an 8-year-old girl with special needs as a foster parent.

Sandra Minter became a foster mother through Ada S. McKinley Community Services a year ago.

The agency is now seeing a 33% increase in the need for foster parents because many family members that had been taking care of children are no longer able to because of the pandemic.

“It is a great joy to you, to be able to pour yourself into a young person’s life,” Minter said. “To teach a child, a child that comes into a home with trust issues, that they can trust somebody.”

At Ada S. McKinley Community Services, who typically works with around 50 foster families, needs to add at least 20 new families to the program.

“The first thing is you have to have a heart for it,” said CEO Jamal Malone. “And that’s the most important thing.

Ada S. McKinley offers support, from financial to academic, to make it work.

Malone recognizes there’s a huge hear of COVID-19 and bringing a stranger into your home, but he points out the agency was founded 101 years ago, in the midst of the Spanish Flu pandemic.

“So when you look at how we’ve come full circle,” Malone said. “We’ve done this work for 101 years, so we’re a little bit experienced that it.”

Minter marvels at the changes she’s seen in her foster daughter after just four short months.

“Everyone sees a difference in her and that’s gotta make you feel proud,” Minter said. “Very proud. Very proud, very relieved, I’m very proud of her.”

To donate or learn more information on becoming a foster parent, click here.