Fostering Hope, a non-profit organization, offers support to foster families and much more – Mainline Media News
In his “Proclamation on the National Month of Foster Care in 2022”, President Joe Biden called the annual May holiday “an opportunity for us to celebrate the youth of foster children and the people who give them love and support.”
The Fostering Hope company from Potstown has been doing just that since the launch of Roersford foster parents Alice Durt and Adrien Cavanaugh in 2019. Initially, a group of volunteers focused their efforts on foster children and families in Montgomery County, but has since opened offices in Delaware, Bucks, Northampton County and York.
“And we’re expanding,” said Treasurer Michelle Filing-Brown. “We have really expanded our operations to all of eastern Pennsylvania. We became the official nonprofit in Montgomery County in 2019. Then a pandemic happened, and it exacerbated all the usual problems affecting foster families. However, we insisted … and continued to serve foster families throughout the pandemic. “
The trio of major initiatives run this service: Dignity Duffles, Bags of Hope and Foster-Share Closet – all supported by direct donations or through Fostering Hope’s wish list on Amazon.
“The transition to a foster family is quite traumatic,” says Filling-Brown. “Kids aren’t trash, and they don’t need to pack their prize stuff in a trash bag or someone’s old, broken, knocked down TSA luggage. Our Dignity Duffel Bags are brand new … beautiful and colorful, something that belongs to them and stays with them. They give children the sense of dignity they deserve.
‘Our bags of hope are lace-up bags that have things a child needs for the first 24 hours that he is in someone else’s house – basic toiletries, napkins, a night light … something that may not be in the family.’ and, especially in the case of last-minute accommodation. Our Foster-Share closet gives foster parents and children the opportunity to “buy” other essentials ”.
The latter includes “necessary equipment, clothing, toys, furniture, additional childcare items, as well as books” – all on the principle of “first come, first served and borrowed… free”. And everyone is carefully attentive to the needs of children and host families because “one size does not fit all and we celebrate the diversity of people in our community”.
“We have worked very closely with the counties – with the Montgomery County Children and Youth Office from the beginning – and they provide the education and continuing education that foster parents must undergo each year,” Filling Brown continues. “We support this through classes that can help meet these requirements. For example, we collaborated with a salon in Phoenixville, which conducted courses on the care of textured hair … for families who are unfamiliar with styling products that they should use on a child’s hair so that they do not break.
“Another thing, in the midst of the pandemic, much of the training took place online, and we were able to donate a few laptops to the county so they could lend them to people who needed to be trained but didn’t have the (necessary) technology at home.”
According to Filling-Brown, such contributions and partnerships are central to the Fostering Hope mission.
“It’s a lot of work to take a child into your home … to open your heart and home to the baby,” she says. “As we look at it, it really occupies the village. We need foster families, but we also need people so that they are close to them, so that they do not feel lonely, so that they understand that they have the support of society.
“Everything we do is solely through donations, and every time we call for something, the community just comes up with it. For example, if a foster family needs a dresser, we post it on social media and someone always goes ahead. If we need something new, such as a car seat, we buy it with funds donated by the community. “
During the pandemic, these needs went far beyond material goods.
“The judiciary stopped in 2020, and it led to a backlog in all kinds of child support cases … termination of parental rights, adoption cases, for example, so it was part of the backlog,” says Filling-Brown. “But another thing affected by a pandemic is when a child is in a foster family, most of the time they still visit the family (birth), and a social worker or foster family can take the child to a neutral public place like McDonald’s or Panera’s, for these visits. During the pandemic all these places closed their canteens, but in our office there is a room where people can visit when needed and we were happy to provide it.
“And during the summer of 2020, when all the training at home and all was so closed, we filled the baskets with pavement chalk, bubbles and hula hoops – everything that was suitable for the age of the children in the house – and made a landing porch. Just a little picked up on the idea, “You’re not alone. The community supports you. “
“We work very closely with the Montgomery County Department of Children and Youth and we are talking about their support and all the great work they are doing. So last year, we gave Wawa handwritten notes and gift cards to county employees who work with us … just so they know, “We think you’re doing a great job and we’re here to support you.” ”
After all, the leadership of Fostering Hope – seeks to “respect the dignity of the people.”
“All of our leaders were foster or adoptive parents, or social workers, caregivers, nurses … people who work very closely with children, and we know that being removed from your home is a traumatic event,” says Filling-Brown. researcher. Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs, University of Kabrini. “It’s an unpleasant childhood experience. There is a lot of research in this regard. But there is also a lot of research on what we can do to positively address trauma, and we want to do our best to provide as much security, hope, dignity and encouragement as possible in the parenting process. ”
The Fostering Hope Board of Directors consists of Filling Brown; Alice Durt, Chief Operating Officer; Adrien Cavanaugh, Director of Development; and Mary Mandy, Information Coordinator. More information is available at www.fosteringhopepa.com and on Facebook. Information on corporate sponsorships and tickets to the Fostering Hope fundraising gala on Sept. 10 at The Inn at Villanova in Wayne is available at fosteringhope.givesmart.com.