THE FOSTER CARE COMMUNITy
We need caregivers who are committed to being a lasting placement to minimize the trauma of our children and youth experiencing foster care. However, too many foster parents and kinship caregivers do not have the necessary support systems in place as they welcome children and youth into their hearts and homes.
75% of the licensed homes stop taking children within about 2 years. We know that many foster parents feel. isolated and undersupported, regularly experiencing high family stressors, lack of social connections, and financial and emotional strain. The turnover rate for foster parents is notoriously high.
Oftentimes foster parents feel overwhelmed taking care of children from hard places without support systems, and parenting within a complicated and complex system. They are at high risk of closing their homes or not having the resources to provide adequate care for children. The repeated trauma of placement changes has devastating consequences for the developing child and creates a deep sense of loss of family, home, and identity.
Jagger and Jordan understand how difficult fostering (and parenting in general) can be, so they frequently sit down with their Love Box family, Royce and Juanita, and ask questions to better understand how they can best support them. Jagger shows up every month by taking the kids out on bike rides and hiking trips, allowing Royce and Juanita to have time for themselves. Jordan will stay back and provide a listening ear by asking how they're feeling, how the kids are feeling, and through those questions, they get to build a genuine connection and alleviate some of the stress they might be feeling.
We advocate love, support, and care. Through our community-based approach, we hope to wrap around families so they feel better equipped to successfully and lovingly take on the task of fostering. We believe that placement stability is key for children and youth in care to grow, heal, and thrive. By walking alongside caregivers and getting into the trenches with them, they feel seen and empowered to continue providing integral support to children and youth by keeping their homes open.
Kristina was interested in getting involved with the Love Box program but didn’t feel she had the time to give, so she asked her friend Pavritha if she would like to volunteer with her. Pavritha has always enjoyed children and fell in love with the idea right away. While Pavritha was looking to volunteer her time, Kristina only wanted to give financially. However, once Kristina met the family, she knew she wanted to be involved in a bigger way.
Kristina and Pavritha were matched with a single mother of three-year-old twins. This was the mom’s first placement, so Kristina and Pavritha especially wanted to support her in any way they could.
“These kids are so much fun… We go to parks pretty much every month. And we have a big enough team that, depending on who can come, one might hang back with the mom so she can have some adult interaction, and some of us hang out with the kids. It’s been a lot of fun just getting to know the mom and what she’s been going through. I mean, I put her on a pedestal. There aren’t a lot of young women who would take this on, and she’s been doing a really good job with them.”
We believe that each of us has a role to play in changing the way children, youth, and families experience care. It's truly simple – all that is required is showing up. Showing up with your time, with your talents, with your resources. There is a family who could use whatever it is that YOU have to give.
A few years ago, Beverly became the caregiver and legal guardian of six of her grandchildren. The kids had been through a lot of trauma and various living arrangements, and were now all living with Beverly.
Beverly was referred to Austin Angels in 2018. Soon thereafter, she was introduced to her Love Box Leader, Caitlin, and a new group of passionate "Team Beverly" volunteers. Beverly recalls Caitlin and Max meeting her family for the first time, going in for a hug, and feeling an instant connection with them, "when the kids met them for the first time they loved them, it's like they are our family now." This support network got busy making sure that Beverly felt heard and supported, that her kids were loved on, and that the family could stay together.
Not everyone is called to foster or adopt, but anyone can invest in real, tangible support for hardworking caregivers, like Beverly, who are. By joining our Angel Alliance, you can do just that. Click here to learn more.
When Ed and Martha first heard about the Love Box program, they were a bit nervous (who isn't?!) because it was something completely new. But once they met with their family for the first time "it was wonderful." Ed shares, "It's the relationships that stand out and mainly motivate us, I think. It establishes something that you're always going to do each month, and it's consistent.”
Each month, Ed and Martha go visit their Love Box family to show any type of support they can - whether that's bringing them essential items, toys for the kids, or providing a listening ear. Ed and Martha are showing consistent support.
We believe that when children and youth experiencing foster care are matched with committed volunteers who continuously show up for them and their caregivers, their sense of purpose and belonging begins to increase, and they are able to begin to dream BIGGER about all that they can become.
Rebecca Kelly is a mentor in our Dare to Dream program to an aged-out youth named Cheyenne. Shortly after being matched, Cheyenne graduated high school. Busy with three jobs but full of hopes and dreams, Cheyenne knew she wanted to go to college and Rebecca was ready to support her every step of the way.
Rebecca has experienced firsthand the obstacles of applying for college. She offered all her wisdom during the application process to eliminate as much anxiety as possible. Every hangout, she and Cheyenne would sit in front of the computer and fill out forms, look up classes, and schedule meetings with advisors. With the help of Taylor, the Austin Angels Case Manager, (link her bio page), Cheyenne was provided a laptop and school supplies, empowering her in her education.
Cheyenne is motivated and responsible, working hard in her employment and caring for her dog. Rebecca is a nursing student, busy with her studies. Through consistent support, Rebecca and Cheyenne have built a genuine friendship full of mutual appreciation. Whether it's sitting in front of a computer waiting for classes to open up, or simply sending each other uplifting messages, the two are woven beautifully into each other's lives.
The goal of our Dare to Dream program is to provide youth with relational permanency through mentors like Rebecca, who show up consistently. Because we believe that having someone show up for you makes all the difference in the world.
We have many youth across Austin who are in need of mentors. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about our Dare to Dream program or becoming a mentor, please visit our website, fill out our mentor application, or share this with a friend!