Have a Heart: Faces of foster care

Highlighting the need for foster homes in Washoe County
Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 8:09 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - In this month’s ‘Have a Heart’ report, we’re not going to introduce you to a child in need of adoption.

Instead, we are highlighting the need for foster homes. In Washoe County, there are an estimated 900 kids in the foster system, but just about 400 homes.

Zack and Raina Stetson are just one of those families taking kids in

“We’ve just really fallen in love with the work of helping families reunify,” Raina said.

For the last five years, they have opened their homes to kids in Washoe County, putting a special focus on reuniting families. In

“Our focus was to be a safe place for kids,” Zack said. “When we help these families become stronger then they become a stronger part of that community.”

Inspired by their church, the couple has now sheltered about 10 kids. The first one came when their own daughter was just a toddler. Raina compares the experience to having twins since the two were just a few months apart in age. It was a new experience in more ways than one, but the couple says they embraced the challenge head-on.

“We kind of looked at each other and said, Why not now?,” Raina said. “What’s stopping us from doing it now, instead of, you know, when our daughter’s older, so we went ahead and took the leap of faith.”

It’s been a journey of growth, not just for the kids they shelter, but for the Steton’s daughter as well.

“She takes as part of her responsibility as the big sister to help show these other kids the way,” Zack said. “And we’ve seen other kids that we know without a doubt that that her influence on them, was almost greater than ours and in helping them heal and grow.”

The Stetsons says helping foster kids has also helped teach a 6-year-old girl an important lesson.

“She’s learned that the world is bigger than just our home, and other people have struggles, and that they are worth helping,” Raina said.

The pair say that’s a lesson they have learned as well.

“It’s easy to demonize people that are in this process, and we found really quickly that they’re just like us,” Raina said. “The need for them to have somebody on their side, and being able to cry and laugh and share the successes and failures, alongside them.”

It’s a big ask, to open your home to strangers, but its one that is desperately needed.


“As long as you can provide a loving stable, secure home for them, that’s it,” Zack said. “That’s what they need. They need three square meals, a warm bed to sleep in, and a set of loving arms to give them a hug when they fall down. That’s really what kids need.”

There are also opportunities to be a respite home. Those families take the kids in for a week or two at a time, to give foster families a break.

To learn more about become a foster home, visit Have a Heart Washoe.

The county also hosts Foster Orientation meetings each month


Wed., 4/21 – 5:30-7:30pm


Wed., 6/9 – 5:30-7:30pm

Sat., 6/26 – 10am-12pm


Wed., 7/28 – 5:30-7:30pm


Wed., 8/18 – 5:30-7:30pm

For more information, email Tawnya at

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