Small Town. Community. Family. These monikers describe the heart behind Foster Village, a local organization that aims to come alongside children and families in the child welfare system and show them they are not alone.
In 2014, the Smith family had the privilege of not only adopting their precious foster daughter but also welcoming their daughter’s birth mother, a strong woman who grew up in the foster care system herself, into their family. After hearing about the harsh realities of a broken child welfare system and seeing the struggles of kids who age out of the system, Chrystal Smith founded Foster Village to support families and address the root causes that created the system in the first place.
“During our time fostering, we saw the needs up close and knew that if the community was aware of the adversity that these children and families were facing, they would want to do something about it,” Chrystal explained.
Due to burnout and lack of support, most foster families don’t make it a year. Conversely, 85% of people who are not foster parents say they care about vulnerable children and want to help. “We set out to bridge the gaps between kids and families in crisis and a caring community ready to help,” Smith affirms. “Once we connected those dots, the community stepped up in ways that continue to blow us away.”
According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, there are over 47,000 children in the foster care system across the state, 500 of those in Hays County alone. While these numbers are shocking, Foster Village serves over 2,000 kids per year. Families can receive free clothing, gear, toiletries, and other basic necessities, and are connected to other foster families and resources to offer encouragement, an important step to ensure families are strengthened and empowered to continue fostering.
Though we grasp this need locally, it’s a national pandemic. Foster Village created an affiliate program that permits their model and materials to be replicated in other cities, which has allowed their “village” to multiply. With national news features and recognition as an award-winning approach, they maintain that our children deserve more than a system. They deserve a village!
Interested in helping? Volunteer! From on-call needs, babysitting, sorting/organizing materials and even planning their annual gala, they need your help! In addition, you can find the “Foster Village Austin Swap” page on Facebook or donate via their website.