Five times a year, Greenville Women Giving hosts programs on issues that are facing the Upstate community, and their most recent, “Life in Limbo: Foster Care” was held Jan. 23 at the Kroc Center. The event focused on bringing attention to the issue of foster care in the Upstate and some of the ways the community can help.
Foster care is widely known to have systemic flaws, but some of its breakdowns are due to issues that remain unfamiliar to many. The event began with a short film showing a young girl named Zoe being moved around from foster home to foster home after being separated from her infant brother and abusive parents. Most of the foster homes thought Zoe was too much trouble and did not want to spend the necessary time to properly work through the difficulties that her upbringing created, which only worsened Zoe’s circumstances.
The group of over 150 guests was moved by the film, which led to presentations from three speakers: Dr. Rhonda Littleton, founder and executive director of A Home For Me: Fostering Adoption Network; David White, CEO and founder of Fostering Great Ideas; and Hope, a student advocate of Fostering Great Ideas and a foster child herself.
Each shed light on the shortcomings and challenges within the foster care system from a variety of angles. Littleton and White focused on the various programs around the country and the Upstate that help foster children feel more secure, confident, and comfortable, despite their uncertain futures. These programs include Journey Camp, a trust-based relational intervention camp to help children get out and socialize; the Aging Out Initiative, a program designed to support children who are aging out of the system to find jobs and apply to colleges; Carry On, a program to provide foster children with suitcases for when they move from home to home so they don’t use trash bags; and Sib-Link and Mom’s Matter, programs which focus on ensuring that the child can still connect with his or her biological family.
Hope from Fostering Great Ideas focused on the mental and emotional tolls that being a child in the foster care system can create. She explained how each moment is filled with uncertainty and misunderstandings, but not just exclusively for the child. Issues can also arise for parents and siblings.
“Foster Care: Life in Limbo” addressed many of the obstacles facing children in foster care and how challenging their lives can be, even after they have aged out of the foster care system.
“By presenting ‘Life in Limbo’, we have made our members aware of this serious problem and what is being done by local organizations to help the children and families who are involved,” said Maggie Glasgow, Greenville Women Giving co-chair. “This knowledge opens up opportunities for members to participate individually by donating or volunteering, as well as through GWG. Last year, GWG made a grant of $47,000 to Fostering Great Ideas for a mentoring program at Greenville Tech.”
For more information on Greenville Women Giving or how to get involved in foster care in the Upstate, visit greenvillewomengiving.org or call 864-361-1393.