From The Settlement Home For Children, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:
About The Settlement Home for Children
At The Settlement Home for Children, our mission is to promote healing and growth in children, young adults and families by providing a continuum of care, support and resources. We serve individuals who have experienced severe emotional trauma, abuse and neglect.
Located in Austin on a 10-acre campus, The Home provides 24-hour care to help children in foster care access the support they need to restore and preserve a permanent sense of well-being. The support we provide includes taking care of our residents’ therapeutic counseling and physical health, providing nourishing meals and recreational activities, helping them develop healthy relationships and supporting their academic growth.
The Home offers a long-term therapeutic living situation by providing a continuum of care: as residents complete their treatment goals, they have the opportunity to move to one of the other programs within our organization. This environment gives our residents stability because they do not have to move to another agency or organization if their treatment goals change. At each step along the continuum, our staff evaluates and ensures the safety and therapeutic needs of each resident in our care.
Our Foster & Adoption Program and How You Can Get Involved
The Settlement Home for Children’s Foster & Adoption Program works with Child Protective Services to provide either a temporary or permanent home for boys and girls of all ages who can no longer remain in their current living situation. Our primary goal is to support family reunification and to help children stay connected to their parents, siblings and extended family throughout their time in foster care. When reunification isn’t possible, foster and adoptive families provide safety, permanence and a nurturing home to children.
Our community needs more foster and adoptive families who are committed to helping children thrive. Some of our community’s specialized needs include foster and adoptive families who can prevent the separation of siblings by accepting sibling sets into their home. Additionally, we are seeking supportive families to guide pre-teens and teens to adulthood through love and structure.
Foster & Adoption Program Volunteer Opportunities
There are many ways people in the community can come together to support foster and adoptive families.
Individuals can serve children directly by providing respite care to foster families. Respite care volunteers provide support by staying overnight with the child in the home when needed. This allows a foster parent to travel as necessary, for work or to respond to a family emergency, for example. When foster families receive regular respite care, they typically remain licensed longer.
There are opportunities for individuals to babysit within a foster home. This gives our foster and adoptive parents the chance to take time for themselves, have a date night or simply see a movie. Additionally, at The Home we have a team of volunteers who commit to watching children several Saturdays a year so that families can attend our on-campus trainings. These trainings are essential for learning, mentorship and community building.
Another significant way to support families is by assisting with transportation. Children in foster care have required doctor and dental appointments within the first few months of being placed in a foster home. Additionally, there may be required visits with the child’s biological family. Most of our foster and adoptive families work during the day, which makes it challenging to get their children to daytime appointments and visits. Volunteers who have the flexibility in their schedule to provide transportation during the workday are paired with one of our foster families.
Donations and Peer-to-Peer support
There are simple acts of support like providing meals for a family, donating school supplies or providing baby items. Peer-to-peer support is essential, too, because foster families can experience stress and feelings of isolation. Being a supportive person to a foster family might mean you are available for coffee to talk and listen, or it might be helping with household chores like cleaning, doing dishes or folding laundry.
Overall, the greatest need in our foster and adoption community is advocacy: bringing awareness to the importance of supporting families. Volunteers who have a passion for advocacy can host our Foster & Adoption team in their home or place of worship to talk with their network of friends about the many ways our community can support foster families.
We hope you’ll join us in learning how you can be a part of the foster and adoption community and make a difference in the lives of children in foster care. Reach out to us at (512) 836-2150 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!
Visit us online at Settlementhome.org/foster-adoption-program.