June’s heroes are Victor and Connie Erlacher. The Erlachers have fostered more than 50 children and teens over the last 30 years. Find out more!
Three of Victor Erlacher’s foster sons once stole his car and went for a joyride through the hills of South Dakota. His response? “We kept them of course,” he laughs. “You wouldn’t throw your biological children out of the house for doing that, would you? And they ended up doing really well.”
Vic, a former teacher, principal and school superintendent, and his wife Connie, a nurse and activities director at a senior center, have fostered more than 50 children and teens during the past 30 years. Twelve years ago they were among the first in South Dakota to begin fostering teens in the juvenile corrections system.
“Our youngest was 12 but most of them are in eighth or ninth grade. We keep them until they graduate from high school,” says Vic. “At one time we had six teenage boys between the ages of 14-17. That was a lot of fun and really challenging. Neighbors would come over at dinner because they said it was like watching a circus.” The Erlachers raised two biological children who, Vic says, enjoyed having extra children in the house. And today they are caring for the two year old daughter of one of their foster sons.
They credit Foster Care to Success with giving a badly needed boost to several of their foster sons. “That was the only way they could continue their education,” Vic says. “The other wonderful thing is that Foster Care to Success assigns a mentor to them. The boys can’t wait to leave home but then they find out that they are really on their own. The mentors are a huge plus.”
Many of the Erlachers’ former foster children are now grown and parents themselves; often on Sunday the home is filled with generations of people whose lives have been touched by “Grandpa Vic and Grandma Connie.” And, says Vic, “That’s a pretty darn good feeling.”