Representative: Becky Santoro
Foster Village Charlotte creates a village of support for our local children in foster care and those caring for them by meeting urgent needs, providing support to stabilize foster homes, and advocating for lasting change in the child welfare process. Foster Village Charlotte is a community beyond the system.
What is the focus of your organization?
The mission of Foster Village Charlotte is to create a village of support for our local children in foster care and those caring for them by meeting urgent needs, providing support, and advocating for lasting change in our child welfare system.
How did your organization start?
We began as a grassroots movement of foster families and over time we saw that something beautiful was going on but we also noticed some some big gaps in our city. The truth was there wasn’t a clear path for others outside of foster care to support those of us within it, even though we knew many people that wanted to help. In addition, we were meeting other foster families that needed care, love, and support and it was hard at times to find others like us because we all were licensed through various agencies. That reality started a journey of dreaming about how to bring the village to the other foster families in Charlotte and how to connect with all foster parents to create an environment of support. We wanted to help foster families thrive and advocate well for our children in the foster care system and after a lot of searching for someone to do it for us, we realized the answer was inside us already. That’s when Foster Village Charlotte was born (the first affiliate of Foster Village Austin.)
What is the issue you’re addressing?
We are bringing dignity to the foster care system by building awareness of the silent epidemic in our city as well as supporting and equipping the foster parents so they can be as emotionally prepared to be a first step in helping a child traumatized by the various factors that led them to be removed from their home. We believe the best chance we have to break the cycle for our foster children is stabilizing and supporting the foster homes they reside in.
Where did your passion for this cause come from?
We became foster parents in the summer of 2016. It was a desire we had since become Title One teachers here in Charlotte and having foster children in our classrooms. At the time we had two biological children (4 and 2) and an hour after receiving notification of our license coming through we got a call for a 1 year old girl who had a very hard story to hear. We said yes and two and half years later she is now our forever daughter. Four months ago we welcomed her brother into our home as well. When there is a great deal of uncertainty, you need stability and support wherever you can find it. The fostering journey is not easy but we had a huge village of friends and families supporting us. When we started meeting other foster parents we received that just wasn’t the case for all. That realization fueled a passion to better equip and support the foster families saying yes daily to our children in crisis.
Why is your work so important?
Foster parents are the first responders for children exposed to toxic stress and traumatic experiences. We believe that the best chance we have as a city to help create a pathway of healing is through the homes they reside in making it very important that our foster families are resourced to the best of our abilities. This just isn’t the case in our city or in many states across America. In addition, statistics show us that children that have spent time in foster care are more likely to be incarcerated, experience poverty, become victims of human trafficking, and experience homelessness. They are more likely to develop PTSD and have long lasting adverse medical and mental issues due to toxic stress. Equipping foster homes gives our children the best chance for establishing a relationship that can change the trajectory of their lives.
What are you most excited for as it relates to the SEED20 process?
I am most excited about building awareness in our city around foster care and learning from the incredible group of nonprofits, leaders, and coaches!
What have you already learned from this process?
One of the things I’ve already learned is how many AMAZING things are going on in our city. I’m excited for the future partnerships with my other colleagues in the class of 2019!
What do you hope to get out of SEED20?
I hope to build my confidence with our mission and highlight a complex issue to people with limited exposure to the foster care system.
SEED20 Onstage is on March 25, 2019. Tickets available soon.
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