This year, Norfolk Friends of Foster Care has worked diligently to help the foster children and foster families of Hampton Roads! As 2017 draws to a close and we reflect on the things we are most grateful for this year, we at Norfolk Friends of Foster Care are thankful for your generous support. Because of you, we have been able to make a difference for more foster youth in more meaningful ways this year than ever before. We are so very appreciative of your belief in our mission and your partnership to improve the lives and outcomes of these children, who through no fault of their own find themselves in very difficult circumstances. Please know that as a direct result of your contributions, the face of foster care in Hampton Roads is changing for the better.
Hampton Roads Foster Care at a Glance:
As of December 1st 2017, there were a total of 741 children in foster care in the cities of Hampton Roads, which is down by nearly 15% from the beginning of the year. Of these foster children, over 80% were placed in non-relative foster homes and approximately 11% were placed in congregate care (aka, group homes). The vast majority of these kids have spent over two years in foster care and at least 25% have been in 4 or more different homes during their time in foster care. These numbers drive Norfolk Friends of Foster Care’s mission to actively recruit the next generation of foster parents to ensure that family placement is always an available option for these kids in their time of greatest need and that a child’s first placement in care is the right and last placement before permanency.
Foster Care Aware:
In line with our mission, we teamed up with other local non-profits to organize the first annual Foster Care Aware Block Party, an event aimed at recruiting new foster families through education on what it takes to foster children and teens in Hampton Roads. Foster Care Aware was the largest event of its kind and proved to be successful in recruiting a significant number of new foster parents in Hampton Roads! Keep an eye out for upcoming information about 2018 Foster Care Aware!
In addition to recruiting good foster homes, our second, but equally important mission is to enrich the lives of the foster children while they are in care. We do this through providing one-on-one, in-home tutoring to improve educational outcomes, giving these kids a higher likelihood of transitioning to productive adulthoods, and by facilitating involvement in extracurricular activities to help build healthy relationships, social networks of support and diverse skill sets. Here is what we did in 2017 to accomplish these missions:
Academic tutoring: This year Norfolk Friends of Foster Care provided tutoring for 68 foster children, with 53 children tutored on an ongoing, weekly basis. That is over 50% of school-aged foster children in Norfolk! Our objective is to improve high-school graduation rates from the current 25% for those in care at time of graduation to be more reflective of the overall national average of 89%. Additionally, we aim to help better prepare foster youth for post-secondary education, so they have skills required to support themselves as productive young adults.
Extracurricular activities: We also sponsored a large number of extracurricular activities this year, with 64 different program participants and 46 kids enrolled in YMCA memberships. In 2017, foster children in Hampton Roads look lessons in piano, swimming, soccer, driver’s education, cosmetology, basketball, dance, and kickboxing! We believe that through this program children are not only building important skills, but also are engaging in activities essential to living happy, healthy lives.
Gifting projects: 2017 was the most successful yet for our gifting projects. The Birthday Project this year had 100% sponsorship, fulfilling the birthday wishes of over 170 kids and this year’s Holiday Project was expanded to include foster children from Chesapeake and Portsmouth in addition to Norfolk. Thanks to our sponsors, we have guaranteed that over 235 foster children will receive gifts this season, helping bring holiday cheer to kids who need it and alleviate pressures that the holidays can bring for both the children and foster parents. We could not be more thankful for your generosity!
On behalf of the Norfolk Friends of Foster Care team and the children we serve, I express my sincere and heartfelt thanks for your partnership in making a true difference in the lives of these kids! I wish you the gifts of love, hope and good health over the Holidays and in the New Year!