Rhinelander couple opens their home to foster childrenSubmitted: 12/13/2017
Phylicia Ashley
Phylicia Ashley

Rhinelander couple opens their home to foster children
RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander couple thought they were empty nesters. However, an experience volunteering made them open their doors back up to kids who need a temporary home.
The Zoerb's adult children moved out years ago. But at any moment they could get a call from social services that make them bring out their parenting skills for another round.
Rick and Danielle Zoerb work together as realtors putting people in homes that are the perfect fit. However, the husband and wife know their home can be a good fit for others too.
"There's no reason for kids to have to fall through the cracks," said Dani.
Rick met a child at a mentorship program a few years ago. It was a meeting that opened a new door for him and his wife.
"There was no hesitation on our part when we felt the situation was deteriorating for this young boy," said Rick. 

The boy didn't end up needing a foster home, but the couple registered with Oneida County to help others that do. Two years later they keep their name on the list to give other kids the same opportunity.
"They came into our lives obviously with a lot of trepidation, angst, uncertainty," said Rick.

The Zoerb's have taken in four girls for temporary stays since they started fostering two years ago. They've given a home for as few as 11 days and as long as four and half months.
"They had two parents to love them and guided them rather than just toss them out there," said Dani.
However, not every kid is so lucky, social services reports there are only eight licensed foster homes in Oneida County. Three are full and can't take any more kids and two only take in younger children, 23 kids stayed in foster homes this year.

The Zoerb's wanted their foster kids to experience a complete family even if it's not forever.
"Give them a difference sense of reality or what normal can be," said Danielle and Rick.
The Zoerb's still plan to keep doing their part.

Whether kids stay for 11 days or four months the Zoerb's hope each child remembers a piece of their past and the lifelong lessons from their temporary home.
"I always say I'm like the person on their shoulders saying make a good decision," said Danielle.
The Oneida County Social Services Department says their biggest struggle is placing siblings and teenagers. The limited amount of foster homes, also means some kids get placed outside of the county.

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