There are currently over 7,500 children in foster care in the State of Kansas. That number is rising. At the same time, the number of foster homes is decreasing due to burnout. Foster children spend an average of 3 years in care. Within this time, they often experience multiple moves between families and homes. Most are separated from siblings, causing further trauma to their fragile lives. We can do better.
Joy Meadows is a neighborhood of foster homes. The foster homes are single-family homes built to house the maximum number of foster children permitted by state statute per home. Access to larger homes means that foster families who are good at what they do, will have the opportunity to live in a home where space allows for additional children to be placed with them, thus providing more children with a stable family environment. An emphasis is placed on putting sibling groups within the same home, or at least in close proximity to one another.
The foster community will have a multi-purpose building that can be used for things such as therapy, tutoring, private lessons, extra-curricular activities – all within walking distance of the foster homes. Therapists and case workers can meet on location, thus cutting down on one more visit and drive for the foster children, foster parents, case workers and therapists trying to meet their needs. In addition, Joy Meadows can help minimize the many burdens to foster homes by giving respite care among the families within the neighborhood, childcare, and providing a place for centralized access to community resources. Children in the neighborhood see other kids and families that look like them. Foster parents have other neighbors and friends who can identify with the issues unique to fostering. The surrounding community then has a centralized location where they can offer support to the children and foster families by donating time, services, and supplies.
impact on the foster family
- Problem -Limited Space: Foster families do not have enough space for more than 1-2 additional foster children. Siblings are divided into multiple homes. Not enough homes.
- Joy Meadows: Homes are built to accommodate the statutory maximum number of children. Siblings can be placed in the same home. Skilled foster parents have access to large homes.
- Problem - Financial Burden: The state stipend is often insufficient to provide for all the needs of the foster child causing a financial burden on foster homes, often preventing families from taking additional children.
- Joy Meadows: Foster families live in the large homes for a minimal rent, and also have access to other community support such as free lessons and clothing closet, thus alleviating some of the financial burden and letting them focus on kids.
- Problem - Lack of Time: Foster parents must spend hours every week driving kids to sibling visits, various therapy appointments, case worker appointments, causing a strain on the family and limiting the number of children they can care for. No time to find resources and activities.
- Joy Meadows: Having a multi-purpose building within the community allows therapy appointments, activities, and sibling visits to take place on site withing the neighborhood. Joy Meadows also coordinates activities and support resources
- Problem- No Respite Care: Foster parents cannot leave for vacation, business trips, or just a night out because there are limited foster homes who could provide respite care. There is also concern for leaving troubled kids with yet another stranger.
- Joy Meadows: Foster families are neighbors within the community and know the children. They can provide respite care for each other, and less trauma to the children because they already know the kids.
- Problem - No Support/Burnout: Foster families are isolated because they are often the only foster family within their social circles. The children sometimes have behaviors that prevent them from participating in social activities. They get little support, additional training, or just "a break" when needed. Burnout is typically 10 months.
- Joy Meadows: Meadows provides a community where foster parents can be comfortable attending social activities. On-going training and trauma support is provided to the foster parents. Neighbors understand and can listen when parents need to vent or provide encouragement.
- Problem- Access to Resources: Foster parents spend so much time transporting children to visits, keeping up with case workers and case plans, and caring for the children who have experienced trauma, they do not have additional time or ability to access the resources they need. In addition, children are often moved before such help can be implemented. Determining financial resources available to pay for support is also difficult.
- Joy Meadows: Joy Meadows does the work of finding the resources needed for the foster home and the foster children. They are the centralized access point for community volunteers, organizations, and resources.