Nonprofit announces opening of new facility to help better serve and support growing number of Austin foster caregivers
Austin, TX -- November 6, 2019- Local foster caregiver support nonprofit, Foster Village, today announced the opening of its brand new, full-service resource center in North Austin. Foster Village provides therapeutic support, community engagement initiatives and resources to caregivers navigating the ever complex foster care system. In addition to current greater Austin facilities in Dripping Springs and Round Rock, the new location will support the rapidly growing number of foster, kinship and reunifying families residing in North East Austin. The multi-use resource center in Dripping Springs, and the nonprofit’s U.S. headquarters, has served as a haven for over 2,000 children since opening in 2017.
Funded by a seed grant, the North Austin center will be a multi-use resource center with supervised visits being one use with parents and relatives in a more trauma-informed environment. The Foster Village staff consists of former or current foster parents, child development experts, and trauma-informed specialists, whose extensive knowledge and experience is infused into every aspect of their programming. Something unique to Foster Village is that they support all caregiver cases including fostering, kinship fostering and biological parents reunifying with their children, without the red tape that many government-run agencies demand.
“The needs of caregivers are consistently and overwhelmingly under addressed by our current foster care system. Our aim here at Foster Village is to fill these gaps felt by caregivers and provide a more holistic, community-based approach to issues surrounding the child welfare system,” said Chrystal Smith, founder and executive director of Foster Village, Inc. “The growing needs and overall ‘crisis mode’ often creates a disconnect between the decision makers and those on the frontlines. By focusing on the needs of caregivers, we are doing our part to help shape and improve the lives of children currently in foster care by providing them with much-needed support, not just in their homes, but in the community at large.”
In addition to the local resource centers here in Austin, Foster Village has several affiliate locations in Texas, including Waco, Houston, and North Texas, as well as locations in Charlotte, North Carolina, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with a few more in the early stages of launching. All affiliate locations are also staffed by current or former foster parents or social workers. Each location is independent in terms of operations and funding, but they work collaboratively, share materials and ideas, and maintain the same mission and common goals within the Foster Village network.
“Right now in North Carolina, there are over 10,500 children in the foster care system and a tremendous shortage of loving, permanent placements. Because of this, we are in a state of crisis with an overwhelming need for foster caregivers,” said Becky Santoro, regional co-founder, Foster Village Charlotte. “Foster Village’s model allowed us to quickly step in and help assist caregivers in the community, by providing not only physical resources but emotional support to help sustain them throughout the process. Through our continued collaboration with the greater Foster Village network, we have been able to assist hundreds of families here in Charlotte to date.”
Seven other cities nationwide have been trained on how to replicate the Foster Village model. The goal is for each independent location to eventually have a home-like resource center similar to Austin. Thus far, Foster Village North Texas and Foster Village Charlotte both have launched multi-use resource centers in their communities.