Can you believe the year is almost over? 2018 has been another busy and impactful year for Norfolk Friends of Foster Care as we worked diligently to help the foster children and foster families of Hampton Roads. As the holidays approach 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, foster care outcomes in Hampton Roads are changing for the better.
Hampton Roads Foster Care at a Glance:
As of November 2018, there were over 5,300 children in foster care in Virginia, over 800 of whom come from the cities of Hampton Roads. Of these children, the vast majority were placed in non-relative foster family homes; however, nearly 23% were placed in congregate care (aka, group homes), or independently, i.e., without a family to care for them. Most of these kids have spent over two years in foster care and over 25% have been in up to 4 or more different homes during their time in foster care. These numbers drive Norfolk Friends of Foster Care’s mission to actively recruit more dedicated foster parents to ensure that family placement is always an option for children in their time of greatest need and that a child’s first placement is the right and last placement before exiting foster care.
Foster Care Aware
This year we held our second 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 is the largest event of its kind and proves to be successful in recruiting a significant number of new foster parents in Hampton Roads. Keep an eye out for upcoming information about the 2019 Foster Care Aware Event!
In addition to recruiting good foster homes, our second, but equally important mission is to enrich the lives of children who are in foster 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 2018 to accomplish these missions:
Academic tutoring: We currently have 117 youth in our tutoring program this academic year and expect this to grow as we enter 2019. In the program’s history, we have served 131 foster youth with over 3500 hours of professional one-on-one tutoring! Our objective is to help improve high-school graduation rates for foster youth, so they are more reflective of the overall national average. 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: In 2018 we supported 43 children in extracurricular activities, ranging from cheerleading and football to driving lessons, and provided over 40 YMCA family memberships to our Norfolk foster youth. This means that over 200 people could enjoy all the wonderful membership benefits the YMCA has to offer. 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: 2018 has been one of the most successful years yet for our gifting projects. We granted 191 children’s birthday wishes, and this year’s Holiday Project was expanded to provide holiday gifts to more than 385 foster children in Hampton Roads – a 63% increase from last year! Thank you to our sponsors and volunteers for 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!