Foster parents face all the same expenses for the children in their care as other parents, and then some, says Catoosa County Director of Foster Care Jonathan Sloan.

“All foster parents receive a per diem through the state which covers the basics,” says Sloan. “However, it takes a lot to raise children, especially those in foster care. Bringing a child into your home not only raises the cost of food and utilities, but there are many other expenses, things like diapers, car seats, school supplies, extra-curricular activities, summer camps, haircuts, band equipment, club fees, ball uniforms, field trips and school pictures, to name just a few.”

Sloan says other things add to expenses, too, like things around the house getting broken and needing to be replaced and travel to multiple medical and therapy appointments. “Some homes have up to six foster children,” he says. “These things add up.”

It’s for this reason that the three local governments, Catoosa, Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe, and the Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce are hosting a drive to collect both donations and supplies to help Catoosa foster families.

Sloan says there are 168 Catoosa County children in foster care at this time, including 17 under the age of one, 49 aged 1-4, 63 aged 5-12, and 39 who are 13 years old and up.

“There’s no way to explain the tremendous amount of love and attention foster parents give foster children,” says Sloan. “No matter the age, foster children experience great trauma and disruption to their lives. Not only do foster parents give their hearts unconditionally to these children and help mend their spirits, but they do so knowing that these children will often be reunified with their biological families. I’ve seen many examples of foster parents working together in partnership with the biological parents to help their children return to them sooner.”

“I think it’s important,” Sloan says, “to note that these are not just foster children, but Catoosa County children. I am thankful for this community and its willingness to step up to take care of their own. There are many who want to help out, and this drive is a great opportunity to give support to these children who need it the most.”

The Governmental/Chamber DFCS Foster Care Drive is in effect until Sept. 13 (though DFCS is happy to receive donations any time). Donors can enter their names into a contest to win two tickets to the Oct. 6 Luke Bryan’s Farm Tour at the Doug Yates Farm. Sign-up sheets are available at drop-off locations. The drawing will take place Sept. 13

Items needed (nothing used, please): diapers, wipes, school supplies, birthday gifts, lice treatment, car seats, booster seats, bicycle helmets, clothing, toys, and anything else you know might be helpful to someone raising children. Cash donations help pay for activities, glasses, dental work and other things ($20 or more to be eligible for the contest; make checks payable to Catoosa County Government).

Drop-off locations

Catoosa County Administration Building (cash and items), 800 Lafayette St., Ringgold

Catoosa County Library (items only), 108 Catoosa Circle, Ringgold

Catoosa County Sheriff’s Department (items only), 5842 Hwy. 41, Ringgold

The Colonnade (items only), 264 Catoosa Circle, Ringgold

Fort Oglethorpe City Hall (items only), 500 City Hall Dr., Fort Oglethorpe

Ringgold City Hall (items only), 150 Tennessee St., Ringgold

For more information, visit Catoosa.com/dfcs-drive.