STANFORD — When Dan and Candy Tribuzio first met their daughter, Bailey, and their son, Cody, it wasn't under the best of circumstances.
These days, Bailey enjoys going to church and playing princess, while Cody prefers to don a cowboy hat and carry a pair of plastic six-shooters.
They both smile easily and once they start talking, it can be hard to get them to stop.
But about two years ago, their lives looked very different as foster children who had been removed from a neglectful home.
"The mom was in a bad spot — she didn't have a home," Candy said. "… It was just not a good environment for the kids."
As foster parents, the Tribuzios accepted the 10-month-old boy and 2-year-old girl into their home. In November, they officially adopted them as their own.
As three-year veterans of the local foster-parent program, the Stanford couple have cared for eight different children.
But there's a problem: In Lincoln County, there aren't enough people like Dan and Candy Tribuzio.
"We're always in need of foster families," said Buford Edwards, family services office supervisor for the Lincoln County Department for Community-Based Services. "We never really have enough to go around."
When children are removed from a home because of abuse or neglect, they have to go somewhere. They may be able to stay with a relative, but when that's not an option, they often wind up in a foster home.
If the local DCBS office can, it wants to place children in local foster homes, so they can still go to the same school and not have to learn the dynamics of a new community.
"It's hard enough when a child has to be removed from their home," Edwards said. "To lessen (that stress) as much as possible is why we try to keep them as close to home as possible."
Kristin Breeden, a Lincoln County foster parent social worker who works with the Tribuzios, said as of March 1, Lincoln County had 47 children in out-of-home care.
The county is currently 15 foster homes short of providing local homes for all of them, she said.
Without those homes available, kids get moved out of the county. Edwards said he just recently placed four children in a Laurel County foster home and another child in a Garrard County foster home.
He estimated about 50 percent of children who need a foster home in Lincoln County get to stay inside the county.
"We just never have enough families," he said. "If we had 20 (new) foster families, that may put a dent in the need."
Statewide, there are about 7,000 children living in out-of-home care, Breeden said. About 75 percent of those children are eventually able to return home to their birth parents or relatives who can care for them.
The Tribuzios, who have two biological children — William, 14, and Nick, 12 — signed up as a "foster-to-adopt" home, meaning they were willing to consider adopting the children they cared for.
"We had some friends that were foster parents. They encouraged us to do it, and we did it," Candy said. "Three years later, we've adopted two kids. We've had a couple other friends do foster parenting too, but they still need more people."