Children need more than a system; they need a village.
Foster parents often feel tired and alone. Most families foster for less than a year, citing burnout and lack of support as the reason they stop. At the same time, 85 percent of people who are not foster parents say they care about vulnerable children and want to help.
Foster Village bridges this gap between foster families and caregivers and those who want to help, meeting practical needs and providing holistic support beyond the system.
We help do this through three main programs:
Equipping Caregivers With Support
When a child is placed with a family, they often arrive with just the clothes on their back. Through Foster Village resources, families and children can get clothing, toiletries and other basic necessities. We have events to provide short breaks for caregivers, provide meals, and connect fostering families with resources to meet other needs.
Connecting Families to Each Other
Foster families are often navigating a complex system and challenges that are unique to caring for children who have experienced abuse, neglect, and family separation. They need to know they are not alone and need encouragement from others on the same journey they are on. By connecting foster families with other foster families, biological families, and trusted resources, families are strengthened and empowered to continue fostering.
Advocating for Change in the System
Foster Village brings dignity to the children and families we serve, understanding the root causes that lead to a child's placement in the foster care system, facilitating relationships between foster families and biological families, and replicating communities of support around the nation.
As we care for the caregivers, foster families are sustained and generations of vulnerable children and families are empowered to overcome adversity.
“Foster Village goes above and beyond in their support to foster families, kinship families, and reunifying families! After welcoming a placement of three kids into our home in the middle of the night, Foster Village was on our doorstep the next day with clothes, car seats, backpacks, toys, and support! Time and time again, they helped meet the basic needs of kids in our home and provided support to us as caregivers. It takes a village to care for our communities most vulnerable children and Foster Village is on the front lines doing so! My family and I are forever marked by the support that Foster Village has given us as they continue to equip, connect, and advocate families and children!” - Tabatha
Foster Village was founded by foster parents who understand first-hand the needs of foster families and the importance of having a village of support while in the trenches of foster care.
The Smiths became a licensed foster home in early 2014 and later had the privilege of adopting their precious daughter who came to their home at 8 months old. Through God's grace, they also welcomed their daughter's birth mother into the family - a strong young woman who grew up in the foster care system and opened the Smiths' eyes to the harsh realities of our broken child welfare system.
This journey, both beautiful and challenging, helped Chrystal Smith see the gaps in the system and the needs that were not being met, both for foster families and for children experiencing or aging out of foster care. It also helped her see how the families and children with consistent and therapeutic networks of support were the ones who ultimately had the most success in growth and redemption, inspiring the idea for Foster Village.
With a degree in child development, training in trauma-informed care, professional experience as a parent educator, and personal experience as a survivor of complex childhood abuse and adversity, Chrystal is uniquely qualified to walk alongside families through vulnerable circumstances. Drawing from her experiences in parent education, advocacy, and foster care along with her expertise in child development and child safety, Chrystal set out to create an organization that would not just meet the immediate needs of families in the child welfare system but would also address the root causes and vulnerabilities that created the system in the first place.
Lori Lee, Meredith Marshall, and Jenny Lichte are three friends with distinct paths that led them to take deep interest in supporting families whose lives intersect with the foster system. As of August 1, 2022, Foster Village Lawrence is an independent 501c3 organization, based in Lawrence, Kansas, serving foster families in northeastern Kansas.
We're proud to be a part of the Foster Village movement, which has been featured in national news and recognized as an award-winning approach. This approach, the heart of Foster Village, will always be based in deep empathy for caregivers, an understanding of the foster care system, and the belief that our children deserve more than a system; they deserve a village.