Written by Co-Founder and Executive Director, Andria Fontenot
A few years ago, Karley and I set out to raise awareness for foster care adoption and to recruit foster families. In doing so, we realized that there are many people who aren't called to be foster families, but still want to help. We aren't all called to do the same thing, but we are all called to do something. We created Fostering Community to give people in our community tangible ways to love and serve children in foster care and their foster families.
-2015- We began by photographing children available for adoption, then displaying their photographs in churches to raise awareness for adoption from foster care.
-2016- We created a Hygiene Closet inside our local DCFS office so that caseworkers would have the ability to clean and dress children as they are entering foster care.
-2017- We started The Foster Care Closet. This project provides new and used clothing and other essential items for children in foster care. Children entering foster care typically have no clothing or belongings and foster families do not receive state board payments when a child is first placed in a home. If a foster family receives multiple placements, or new placements often, it can be very difficult financially. This volunteer-run project gives our community a tangible way to serve foster families and children. Everything in the closet is donated by the community and is free of charge to foster families. We provide biblical resources, educational books for foster families, and more. We also meet the unmet needs of children in care. Sometimes this means buying a crib, or a set of bunk beds so that siblings may stay together. Sometimes it means we pay for cheer camp, music lessons, or a laptop for a teenager who is headed to college. We want each child in foster care to thrive and have as much normalcy as possible.
-2018- We started our weighted blanket project, our birthday in a box kits, and our safe sleep project. In December, were blessed to receive the Community Impact Grant from The Central Louisiana Community Foundation.
-2019- We are implementing our CLCF Community Impact Grant which allows us to expand 4 of our current projects into the other 8 parishes in our region. This grant has allowed us to hire a part-time employee at The Foster Care Closet, set up hygiene closets inside each DCFS office, allowed us to expand our safe sleep project with Family Services, and allowed us to expand our Birthday in a Box Project with CASA and DCFS. We are continuting to meet the unmet needs of children and families, as well as caseworkers. We have BIG DREAMS for 2020 which include a "Fostering Community Center" that will allow us host family visitations, family team meetings, an after school literacy program, TBRI trainings, foster parent orientations, and DCFS meetings. Pray with us that we will see our dream realized in 2020 so that we can continue to support families and children in innovative ways.