Submitted by Fosterful
Since 2013, a grassroots group of community members known as Office Moms & Dads (OMD) has been volunteering at local child welfare offices in Washington and Idaho. Their goal was to provide a soft landing to children entering foster care, or spending time at the offices for a variety of reasons, so that children don’t feel alone during such a frightening time. The group has worked with the community to provide new, clean clothing, luggage, food and other necessities so the kids are ready when a foster caregiver comes to pick them up. OMD also serves as a way for community members to get involved with foster care without becoming a full-fledged foster parent. On-call volunteers serve Monday through Friday during business hours, helping alleviate social workers of the childcare aspect of their job.
Throughout the pandemic, the group continued to care for kids by providing resources that social workers could deliver during visits, like remote learning supplies, clothing, therapeutic toys, and meals to caregivers who had no other source for respite.
Over the past two years, as the national conversation turned to systemic racism, the leadership at OMD began listening to leaders of the BIPOC community to hear their stories and gain feedback for how the program could better serve children of color who have been, and continue to be, overrepresented in foster care.
Additionally, the group heard from non-binary volunteers who were excited and passionate about the mission, but concerned about the exclusive nature of the name. Their voices added to the urgency of finding a brand that would reflect the organization’s values of equity and inclusivity to all.
As child welfare offices have begun mobilizing volunteers once again, the Board of Directors voted to use this opportunity for change and growth. As of March 1, 2022 Office Moms & Dads registered with the Secretary of State to become Fosterful.
Leadership believes that ‘Fosterful’ highlights the fact that the group has become more than just volunteer companions to kids in foster care. They are mindful, thoughtful, and hopeful. Through trauma-informed care practices, they provide nurturing environments and basic necessities to kids in care in 26+ locations throughout Washington and Idaho. Under this new banner the nonprofit organization has room to grow into a MOVEMENT for changing the child welfare system from the inside out.
As of May 1st, 2022, the DCYF offices have opened their offices to the public and the requests for Fosterful’s volunteers have increased. If you are interested in volunteering with Fosterful please contact Sarah Copes at email@example.com or call 315.569.7296. Volunteers are required to be background checked and be fully vaccinated against COVID.