PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –– Philadelphia has a desperate need for foster parents, according to officials from the city’s child welfare system.

There are about 6,000 children in the system but less than 5,000 foster homes, and the Department of Human Services says it has struggled to improve safety and conditions for children in the system.

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DHS commissioner Cynthia Figueroa says she has a “big ask.”

“We want you to be a resource parent for children in our foster care system,” she said. “Yes you, not the person sitting next to you, but we know each one of us can make a difference in the lives of children.”

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The need is especially great for older teens, kids with special needs and siblings, but foster parent Stephanie Laws says the rewards are great too.

“With the love and support we provide, these kids are growing, they’re knocking down different barriers every day.”

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Those interested can call DHS at 215-683-5709, email, or visit their website at