Children need more than a system; they need a village.
Families experiencing foster care often feel tired and alone. Most caregivers foster for less than a year, citing burnout and lack of support. At the same time, 85 percent of people who are not foster parents say they care about vulnerable children and want to help.
Foster Village bridges this gap between those experiencing foster care and those who want to help, meeting practical needs and providing holistic support beyond the system.
We help to accomplish this through three main pillars:
Equipping Caregivers With Support
When a child is placed with a family, they often arrive with just the clothes on their back. At Foster Village resource centers, families and children can get clothing, new beds and car seats, toiletries and other basic necessities – completely free, in a trauma-informed, developmentally appropriate, and home-like environment.
Connecting Families to Each Other
Families intersecting with foster care navigate a complex system and unique challenges that come with caring for children who have experienced abuse, neglect, and family separation. When others who are on that same journey offer solidarity and encouragement, caregivers are reminded that they are not alone. By connecting caregivers to one another and to a supportive community, families are strengthened and empowered to be a steadfast source of healing and safety for the children in their care.
Advocating for Community Beyond the System
Foster care is a messy solution to a messy reality. We believe the path to restoration is a safe and supportive community beyond the system. Foster Village upholds the inherent dignity of every child and family, understands the root causes of children entering the foster care system, facilitates relationships between foster and biological families, and replicates villages of support around the nation. We inform and engage the community by elevating the voices and stories of those with lived experience. At Foster Village, we bring awareness to the greatest needs and bridge those gaps so that every family can thrive.
By caring for the caregivers and mobilizing an engaged community, we empower generations of vulnerable children and families to overcome adversity.
“Foster Village goes above and beyond in their support to foster families, kinship families, and reunifying families! After welcoming a placement of three kids into our home in the middle of the night, Foster Village was on our doorstep the next day with clothes, car seats, backpacks, toys, and support! Time and time again, they helped meet the basic needs of kids in our home and provided support to us as caregivers. It takes a village to care for our communities most vulnerable children and Foster Village is on the front lines doing so! My family and I are forever marked by the support that Foster Village has given us as they continue to equip, connect, and advocate families and children!” - Tabatha
Foster Village was founded by foster parents who understand first-hand the needs of foster families and the importance of having a village of support while in the trenches of foster care.
The Smiths became a licensed foster home in early 2014 and later had the privilege of adopting their precious daughter who came to their home at 8 months old. Through God's grace, they also welcomed their daughter's birth mother into the family - a strong young woman who grew up in the foster care system and opened the Smiths' eyes to the harsh realities of our broken child welfare system.
This journey, both beautiful and challenging, helped Chrystal Smith see the gaps in the system and the needs that were not being met, both for foster families and for children experiencing or aging out of foster care. It also helped her see how the families and children with consistent and therapeutic networks of support were the ones who ultimately had the most success in growth and redemption, inspiring the idea for Foster Village.
With a degree in child development, training in trauma-informed care, professional experience as a parent educator, and personal experience as a survivor of complex childhood abuse and adversity, Chrystal is uniquely qualified to walk alongside families through vulnerable circumstances. Drawing from her experiences in parent education, advocacy and foster care along with her expertise in child development and child safety, Chrystal set out to create an organization that would not just meet the immediate needs of families in the child welfare system but would also address the root causes and vulnerabilities that created the system in the first place.
Today, Foster Village is a nationwide movement, featured in national news and recognized as an award winning approach. And it will always be based in deep empathy for caregivers, an understanding of the foster care system and the belief that our children deserve more than a system; they deserve a village.