For almost 15 years, volunteers with Fostering Hope Foundation have provided support to foster families and to young adults who are aging out of foster care.
“Through our model, we create stability and enriching experiences that you would find in a healthy, natural family,” said Brian Newsome, director at the nonprofit organization.
Throughout the year, volunteers provide support to 35 to 45 families. One team, typically consisting of four to eight volunteers, helps support one family. In total, Fostering Hope has more than 700 volunteers who have served a total of 139 families and 757 children, Newsome said.
The way volunteers support each family, teen or young adult is different based on individual needs. For example, some volunteers provide transportation to help parents get to appointments while others might cook a meal or assist with a home improvement project.
Volunteers also lend an ear to foster parents and are there to support them through emotionally difficult situations.
For older children and young adults who may be aging out of foster care, volunteers may help them learn to balance a checkbook, to shop for groceries or maintain a car.
“Overall, our volunteers help families and young adults so that these children are in the best position to heal,” Newsome said.
Volunteers are typically recruited from the area’s faith community; however, the organization is not faith-based. All volunteers undergo a background check and are provided with training.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person gatherings have been limited.
“For foster families, fostering is incredibly difficult under the best of circumstances,” Newsome said. “With COVID, it’s gotten even more difficult.”
Some children in foster care have behaviorally regressed, he explained, as the shift to online learning and changes in routine proved challenging. For foster parents who may have several children living with them, finding laptops and making sure everyone has completed online learning while also managing the household has been an even bigger challenge.
Fostering Hope Foundation’s volunteers adapted to the pandemic and have dropped off meals and supplies and supported families through video calls, he said. Some volunteers offered a video story time for children while others made activity kits.
Springs-based Colorado Institute for Social Impact studied Fostering Hope’s social return on investment and found that for every $1 invested in the organization, $2.79 in value is generated in the community.
The CI4SI study specifically looked at mental health, reducing homelessness, criminal incidence and unemployment, teen pregnancy, enrollment in high school, vocational school or college, and other factors.
“This is a unique model that we hope to expand to other communities over the next few years,” Newsome said.
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