Introducing “Foster Community”




After months of planning, Mission Capital is excited to announce the launch of Foster Community, a community-wide initiative driven to increase the diversity and number of volunteers and healing foster families available to serve children in care in Central Texas. Foster Community, a project funded by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and St. David’s Foundation, originates from the Travis County Collaborative for Children (TCCC). The collaborative is powered by local organizations serving kids in care, and our Aligned Impact team is serving as backbone support.

A Collaborative Journey

For the past five years, we have had the privilege of working alongside members of the TCCC and the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University to provide Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) training to adults serving children in foster care. Ultimately, our goal is to improve outcomes for children in the areas of healing and permanency. The TCCC’s “Strategy Roadmap” contains four pillars that support full systems change in the way children are cared for during their time in care: effective collaboration, trauma-informed organizations, trauma-informed public policy, and healing families.

In 2016, Mission Capital completed the Central Texas Foster Family Gap Analysis. The analysis made it clear that we had an opportunity to expand on the collaborative’s fourth pillar of healing families, and give special attention to the recruitment of foster families in Central Texas.

This report revealed the foster care system’s most critical pain points around child placement, and highlighted the subpopulations most affected by its failures. We learned that upwards of 30% of our community’s children in care are placed outside of Travis County and contiguous counties. As a result, the children’s environment is completely disrupted as they are moved across county lines and separated from loved ones. In many cases, these “hard to place” children will experience multiple foster home changes due to the high probability of having complex needs.

Foster Community

Skimming local news headlines or spending time with individuals who have personal experiences navigating the child welfare system will show you just how challenging the system is, with a shortage of foster families at the crux of the issue. Still, if you continue to listen, you will also hear stories of hope, innovation and dogged persistence that surface from community members and institutions that are taking ownership of the foster care crisis—state agencies, nonprofits, schools, places of worship, service providers, foster families, volunteers—the list goes on. Our partners in the TCCC have shown us that a community response is the solution, and that each one of us has a role to play in ensuring that our kids have safe and healing foster homes.

The new collaborative initiative, Foster Community, is rooted in this understanding of community responsibility for our children. The joint effort among members of the TCCC was officially launched in July of 2017 with the support of local child placing agencies, organizations serving children in care and their families, and local funders. The goal of Foster Community is to increase the number of community volunteers and healing foster families available to serve children in Central Texas, with a strong emphasis on cultural responsiveness and recruiting from diverse communities. Here are the crucial mechanisms that support this aligned impact initiative:

  • FosterCommunity.org serves as a centralized resource for community members to connect with organizations and start the process to become a volunteer or foster parent. Those visiting the site can choose their level of participation, from assisting organizations with administrative tasks to becoming a foster parent. The purpose of this new site is to engage community members around this issue and give them ways to take action and support our youth in care. By featuring the personal experiences of former foster youth, foster parents of all backgrounds, and staff who work with children in care, FosterCommunity.org represents a range of voices within the foster care system.
  • Community Engagement Specialist: Ana Acosta, the newest member of the Aligned Impact Team, serves as the initiative’s Community Engagement Specialist. In her role, she works closely with partner organizations to leverage and supplement their efforts in recruiting new foster families. Ana will implement an inclusive and culturally responsive community engagement strategy, with the ultimate goal of engaging communities that have been historically underrepresented among community volunteers, foster families and leadership in the child welfare space.
  • Operational Team: Members of this committee represent Foster Community’s partner agencies and guide the initiative in many ways, including providing input on key activities, advice in strategic decision making, reviewing data related to the initiative’s progress, and providing feedback on recruitment materials and resources such as the website. The Operational Team is comprised of staff members who work with children and their foster families daily, and are able contribute valuable insights into both child welfare systems and the populations Foster Community seeks to engage.

Our Role as the “Backbone”

The Aligned Impact Team at Mission Capital is honored to serve as the backbone support for Foster Community by providing strategic guidance, logistical coordination, stakeholder engagement and outcomes data collection. Most importantly, we’re working to align and enhance the existing efforts of Foster Community partners, so that as a community, we can avoid duplication, working more efficiently toward our long-term goal of ensuring children in care remain close to their community and on the path to healing and a permanent home.

Interested in learning more about the initiative? Visit FosterCommunity.org to learn how you can take action!

 

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