By Crocker Stephenson of the Journal Sentinel (May 25, 2016) —

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery and his mother, Lisa Montgomery, spent time in a grassy lot at the corner of N. 12th St. and W. Walnut Ave. Wednesday to help launch a statewide campaign to recruit badly needed foster parents.

Lisa Montgomery, who is from Dallas but, in a show of family solidarity, wore a Packers pendant, has fostered 17 children and is now, informally, caring for the child of her first foster son.

“The love you get,” she said when asked why. “The love. It’s unconditional.”

Near the lot, and high above her head, was a new billboard. It shows a girl standing in front of classroom chalk board. The billboard says, in red letters, “I want to be a teacher,” although the letters fade out before the word “teacher” is complete.

“Without foster parents,” the billboard says, “futures can fade away.” Kids climbing a rock wall erected in the lot drew the attention of people driving past to the billboard above.

The billboard, as well as a series of public service announcements, were designed by the nonprofit Serve advertising agency for the Coalition for Children, Youth and Families, which recruits and supports foster and adoptive families.

Oriana Carey, the coalition’s CEO, said 350 to 400 kids across Wisconsin are removed from homes each month due to safety concerns or neglect.

In recent years, the demand for safe and stable foster homes has rapidly increased, she said, even as a generation of foster parents is beginning to retire.

Drug addiction is driving at least part of the demand. To keep up, the coalition anticipates needing an additional 1,500 foster families.

Lisa Montgomery said she began to foster children because Ty Montgomery needed brothers to play with. Considering that her son, when he was 8, dislocated her shoulder while she attempted to teach him a three-point stance, that seems wise.

Having foster children became a part of their lives. Ty Montgomery, who is engaged, said he planned to become a foster parent and possibly adopt. “I’ll probably do both,” he said. “It’s a part of me.”

Lisa Montgomery was asked what it takes. “You just need to have a heart to want to do it,” she said.

To find out more about becoming a foster parent, go to www.fosterparentsrock.org.