RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – In Wake County, hundreds of children will be in the foster care system over the holidays with many still waiting on long-term placements even as the holly, jolly season comes and goes.

“There’s also a lot of children who still do not have a home to go to,” Wake County permanency services manager Kimberly Herrington said. “Children need, and deserve, families who are loving and caring…especially during the most difficult times to be in foster care, which is during the holidays. You’re separated from your family and where else would you want to be but in another loving home”

Currently, the county has 503 children in the system, but only 90 foster homes.

That number of homes is half of what it was in 2019, data shows.

“We had a lot of foster parents not only decide not to become foster parents anymore [but] we had foster parents who decided to retire,” Herrington said.

The gap has led to placements outside of the county, as well as in other states.

Even a Wake County office building serves as a temporary home for some kids, CBS 17 learned.

“It’s the lack of foster parents that has the kids in the building,” DaQuanta Copeland, a non-profit leader and Wake County health board member, said. “But if more people got involved and opened their hearts and got educated on the process and the certification, then we can become the solution.”

Just last week, the county approved $2 million to create three group homes for the temporary placement of vulnerable youth.

“These kids are dealing with a broad spectrum of issues,” Copeland said. “Mental health, loneliness, depression…it’s going to take a village.”

The county is holding informational foster care meetings on the second Tuesday of every month. The next meeting will be on Dec. 13. Anyone interested in registering or finding out more can visit the county’s foster care website.