Edie and Scott Rodgers work as houseparents for Children in Crisis. Houseparents are very similar to traditional parents, but their job is to care for foster children in a group home setting.

FORT WALTON BEACH —In a dimly lit roller skating rink, a family of seven laces up their skates.


They are not your typical household.


Edie and Scott Rodgers work as houseparents for Children in Crisis. Houseparents are very similar to traditional parents, but their job is to care for foster children in a group home setting.


“Everyone asks me, ’What’s it like to parent seven kids?’” Edie said. “It’s controlled chaos.”


The two live in a house provided by CIC, where they care for around five to seven foster children, but the two can care for up to 12.


They spend about three weeks at a time acting in the role of a parent and then a set of respite parents take over for six days to give Scott and Edie a break.


Like any other house, the children have age-appropriate chores and rules. The children must make their beds, keep their rooms clean, and do their own laundry.


“We try to teach them life skills early,” Scott said.


The group home has a large kitchen, a game room, a number of bedrooms for the foster children and a living room. Along with the children’s rooms, are a master bedroom for Scott and Edie and a separate bedroom for the respite parents.


There are three beds to a room, and children are allowed to decorate their rooms however they like.


One of the children has so many stuffed animals and pillows that Scott wonders how she can sleep at night.


There is also a giant playground and basketball hoop, which is nestled amidst four of the five foster houses.


Originally from Michigan, Scott and Edie weren’t always houseparents. The two had lost a child at birth and they struggled to understand why. Some time later, Edie said God told her.


“So we were in a service, a church service, and God showed me thousands of children and said this is why I’ve left a hole in your heart,” Edie said.


Around the same time Scott was having similar thoughts on house parenting.


They were at lunch one day, and they told each other they both had something to discuss. Coincidentally, it was the same topic.


“And I’m like, ’Awesome because I have 20 different job positions that I’ve already printed out,’” Edie said.


The two started in Tennessee, but when the opportunity came up, they moved to Fort Walton Beach to work as respite parents and then in the emergency shelter at CIC.


CIC is a non-profit that specifically focuses on keeping siblings together. They provide the housing that is part of the The Children’s Neighborhood on Hurlburt Road. Within the campus, there are five foster homes, an emergency shelter, an office and a kid’s clubhouse for activities.


The campus also has eight studio apartments, six of which are for children who have aged out of the foster care.


“A giant family” is how Edie described the CIC staff.


Edie and Scott’s foster children also consider each other like family. Edie said the children become extremely protective of each other.


“Eventually, they all kind of become siblings in their own way, living in the same house,” Edie said.


For Thanksgiving this year, Scott and Edie planned a special celebration. Because the children came from different backgrounds, the two combined all the traditions of their foster children to create a “crazy feast.”


Each child in their house decided on must-have dishes for the giant dinner.


Edie and Scott also like to take the kids out of the Children’s Neighborhood for activities.


Sk8, a roller rink in Fort Walton Beach was one of these destinations. Racing around the rink, one of the foster children was determined to catch her older and younger brothers during a game of tag.


Her two brothers were defeated as she swatted them with pool noodles during the game. A few days later, Edie and Scott took the kids to the zoo to pet the baby sloths.


Edie said she wants them to have experiences that they may not have had when they were home.


She described an instance when she wanted green bean casserole instead of what the kids were eating. So, Scott made her the dish, which most of the foster children had never seen or tried. She let them all try a piece, and by the end, she only had a little for herself.


“They had never tried green bean casserole before, so seeing their eyes light up trying something new and being able to just experience life as a kid and not have to worry about where their next meal is going to come from or who’s going to hurt them,” Edie said.


Watching the foster children thrive is one of the most rewarding aspects of house parenting, Edie and Scott agreed.


Scott and Edie describe the rise in confidence from the moment the children come into their home and the moment they leave.


“The reward is to see them smile as they go with their adoptive parents or with a family member,” Scott said.