St. Petersburg, Fl – Thousands of children in the Tampa Bay area have been removed from their families because of neglect or abuse. If they’re lucky, the kids are placed in foster homes that provide love and stability. But there’s a shortage of foster homes and that problem has one family speaking out.

Rachel and Rick Reumann of Palm Harbor have been foster parents for about two years. The couple have no children of their own and they wanted to help kids. “We had always talked about foster and adoption,” explains Rachel. “We just wanted to share our life and our home with children.”

Rick admits that at first he was apprehensive, but the support and classes offered by this area’s child welfare agency Eckerd Kids helped allay his concerns. The couple now fosters four children ages 15, 13, 11, and 10. “We have just been so blessed through the experience,” Rick said. “We just felt we definitely needed to give back.”

The Reumanns are now in the process of adopting 15-year-old Nikki and her younger sister. “I honestly don’t know, I cannot even fathom where or who I would be were it not for the intervention of the foster care system in my life and just the opportunities it has provided me,” said the mature-beyond-her-years 9th grader.

And Nikki says it’s her life’s goal to continue to advocate for kids like herself. She says people considering becoming foster parents shouldn’t be afraid. “You don’t have to be a perfect parent, you don’t have to have years of experience,” she says. “You just have to have a heart full of love and the willingness to dedicate yourself to caring for children.”

For more information on becoming a foster parent go to go to Eckerd Kids or call Eckerd Kids at 1-866-233-0790.