Welcome to our creative corner! Where we will chronicle the continued growth and development of FACES of Virginia Families and the wisdom that comes from our collective community of foster, adoptive, and kinship families here in Virginia.
My name is Cate Hawks and I am the Founding Executive Director of FACES of Virginia Families. I am looking forward to writing for you about the lessons I learn from families just like yours.
Tonight, I would like to focus on a new development we are considering at FACES of Virginia Families.
About 6 years ago, FACES received a respite care grant from Adopt US Kids. We partnered with the Richmond City Department of Social Services and hosted our very first weekend respite camp for foster, adoptive, and kinship families. It was an amazing learning experience. The families we met and worked with over that weekend were genuine, caring people that really needed a chance to "get away" from it all. I loved every moment of that camp and from all reports, so did the families.
Fast forward to this autumn...we have now hosted 6 other respite camps with the same or better results. Families have formed relationships, children have learned they are not alone, and we have begun to understand our purpose as an organization.
During our Ambassadors Retreat this fall, we had an epiphany! More than one of us had been thinking about ways to expand our efforts to support families and youth who have aged out of foster care. Jennifer Jones, our Central Region Ambassador, mentioned she had been considering developing a healing garden and farm for kids with special needs. I was so excited by her idea, I began talking about my early work on the outline for a dissertation that involved creating a family center for families to reconnect and be rejuvenated. Energy became synergy and we have located three possible sites for a respite program in Hanover County.
The concept of a transitional living program for youth aged out of foster care or for young adults who could no longer live with their kinship caregivers or adoptive parents became the focus of our dreaming. Through multiple emails and conversations we began to realize that our best option might be to expand on what we have learned to do best and what we know MATTERS to our foster, adoptive, and kinship families. Our original concept has transformed into a plan for a Guest House and Family Respite camp program.
Why respite care as our focal point? Respite care is one of the least available services to foster, adoptive, and kinship families and, yet, it is the one most needed by many families. It is our dream to create a Home Place and Respite Lodge for foster, adoptive, and kinship families to reconnect and have respite time in a calm, healing environment that also offers challenging family and youth activities. In Virginia, there are over 4000 foster families; thousands of adoptive families; and over 60,000 kinship families. These families are often facing not only the everyday stressor of family life; but, the additional stressors of mental health, behavioral and developmental challenges. The children face loss, grief, and abuse/neglect recovery. For these families, respite is essential to the stability of their family home and stability is essential to the healing process for children.
Please follow our journey. We will post here information about our camps, our plans for growth, donor gifts, volunteer efforts, and the input we have received from our families.
Thanks for joining us...the stars are aligning.