Children being separated from their parents for their own safety are also being separated from the only place they know as home. Regardless of how long these children are to stay in foster care, it’s an admirable goal to have each child’s first stop be a place that feels like a real home.
For that reason, today we’re using this space to urge your financial support to make the Faith, Hope & Love Home for Children, a temporary home for Racine County foster children, a reality.
“The Faith, Hope & Love Home for Children is a way to provide love and support, even if only for a short time,” said Mark Lojeski, who with his wife, Heather, in 2014 co-founded Faith, Hope & Love, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children in crisis. “That tells these kids that they matter.”
Kerry Milkie, youth and family manager for Racine County Human Services, said in a recent Journal Times report that there are 360 children in foster care in Racine County and not nearly enough foster homes.
“If you look at the 2014 data, we had 120 foster homes,” said Milkie. “We currently have 88. We’ve had a 40 percent increase in the number of children placed in foster care just over the last year. The math doesn’t add up.”
The shortage has added trauma to children in foster care. Last year, 100 Racine County foster children were placed outside the county due to space issues, Heather said.
“School-age kids have not only now been removed from their parents, they are no longer at their school and no longer with their friends,” Milkie said, adding that Racine County foster children have been placed in West Bend, Brown County, Milwaukee and other outlying areas.
The Lojeskis hope that, by creating a temporary place for foster children to stay while caseworkers search for suitable homes for the children, they will be able to help make the transition for foster children a bit easier.
“This would allow children to come to our facility to play, get food, rest and make sure their needs are meet while giving caseworkers time to work and not to worry about the children during that time,” Heather Lojeski said. The home would temporarily house up to 10 children, from a few hours to 30 days.
The home’s creation would also help combat another major issue for foster children — the separation of foster children from their siblings.
“The home would help keep those sibling groups together, allow them to have their needs provided for, including clothing, shoes, books, backpacks, blankets, stuffed animals, toys, whatever they are lacking,” Heather Lojeski said.
“A receiving home could provide short-term placement we can utilize at any time of the day in which we can keep sibling groups intact while we look for more permanent placement for those children,” Milkie said. “It could create something comfortable where staff can provide children the attention they need and deserve after being removed from their parents’ home.”
A physical location has not been selected. The nonprofit hopes to rent a building, specifically near the Downtown area or the north side of Racine, and is hoping to raise $25,000, for one year’s rent and the cost of renovations.
If the organization had to purchase a building, it would need to raise $200,000, which is why the Lojeskis would rather rent a facility at first.
To raise the funds, the Lojeskis have launched a fundraising campaign. The capital campaign kicked off on Nov. 11 and will continue for 28 days.
We’d urge you to consider becoming a foster parent as well. But if you’re unable to do that, please give what you can to the Faith, Hope & Love Home for Children. It’s a wonderful opportunity to, as Heather Lojeski put it, “show children that their community does care about them.”
To donate funds for Faith, Hope & Love Home for Children, go to https://app.snap-raise.com/fundraisers/47179.