All For Family foster support group opens second location | Local News

All For Family, a nonprofit group that helps support foster children and their families, has announced plans for expansion.

The group, which recently opened a facility in Hillsboro to provide space for supervised visits between adoptive children and their parents and siblings, is currently setting up a second meeting location in a rented space at Exchange Church, 2384 Starling. Airport Road, Arnold.

The Hillsboro facility is small, so Arnold’s location is a big plus, said Angel Williams, founder of All For Family.

“This will not only help double or even triple our capacity for supervised family visits, but it will also provide us with space for additional programming,” Williams said.

She said the Hillsboro space is a “nice, private, family-friendly place to be one at a time.”

In addition to a safe and appropriate place, families need a supervisor for each visit. All For Family recruits community volunteers to serve in this capacity.

“The Children’s Division provides background checks and training,” Williams said. “This is a perfect opportunity for seniors, retired or semi-retired, or really anyone who has time to give to the host family community.”

Since All For Family’s inception, Williams said, there have been several successes.

“We’ve had at least four families successfully reunited, and three or four more who have moved on to unsupervised visitation,” she said.

The group is funded by a grant from the Jefferson Foundation.

“The Hillsboro space is $350 per month including utilities, and the Exchange Church space is $500 per month,” Williams said. “There are two rooms that we can use for visits and one that we are setting up for an office, which the Hills-boro location does not have.

“We will also have access to their dining room during the week or when they don’t have events going for sibling visits, meetings, parent education classes, trainings. They also have an outdoor space which we will try to use. The only thing is that we have to be creative to make everything portable.

Williams said the group hopes to expand the scope of its services during tours.

“Our goal is to include a variety of sensory equipment and toys,” she said. “Because we know there is such a strong need in children who come from trauma, who have ADHD or autism, with so many overlapping characteristics, it can be hard to tell them apart. We have yet to meet a foster child who does not seem to benefit from sensory play.

All For Family offered its services free of charge to families, but was forced to institute a fee schedule as of January 1 this year.

“Each family gets 20 free visitation units,” Williams said. “After that, there’s a $5 per hour charge for the next 10 visits, and then anything over 30 visits is $10 per hour. For non-family visits, such as custody cases, it’s 15 free visits; then it slides to $10, then $15 an hour.

“We felt that a fee was necessary to allow us to serve as many families as possible and to help cover living expenses. Most places charge between $45 and $60 per hour. We try to help as many families as possible.

Volunteers welcomed

Williams, 45, organized All For Family in late 2018 to help raise awareness of the needs of foster families and support short- and long-term projects to help them get the services they need. The group has four main objectives:

■ Increase the number and duration of supervised visits between foster children and their parents and siblings.

■ Fund home repair/renovation/extension projects to enable those who wish to become foster parents or have more children in foster care. The group hopes to recruit qualified volunteers and solicit material and financial contributions for these projects.

■ Establish an indoor play area to bring separate groups of siblings together, serve as a venue for foster family reunions, and provide a social gathering place for foster children.

■ Provide in-home behavioral support and transitional services for adolescents in foster care, including in-home resources for families dealing with issues such as discipline, safety, adjustment and others problems, and to help secure transitional resources for foster children who are “aging” out of the system.

The group is always looking for volunteers in a variety of roles.

“We absolutely need to increase our number of volunteer supervisors for the Arnold area,” Williams said. “We have about eight or nine families on a waiting list and we are trying hard to recruit volunteers so that we can get these family services.”

Those interested in learning more about the Visitation Supervisor role can apply at allforfamily.net.

“They go through a background check – the Children’s Division processed them for us – and then they get training on their role, what’s allowed and what’s not. Then they have a home conference to go over all the information and check that they are suitable.

Williams said supervisors could come from many places.

“It could be a relative, a co-worker, someone they go to church with,” she said. “We let volunteers sign up as long as it suits them; we do not require a minimum. I’d like to see them cover at least two hours a month, but they can definitely do more.

There is a need for volunteers with other skills, as well as contributions of materials and money for projects.

“We had a family whose furnace had gone out, and they had a house full of kids and no heat,” Williams said. “All kinds of emergencies can happen, and I would love to have a running list of people who can do these things whenever something happens.

“We told the pastor at Exchange Church that the outdoor area needed to be fenced off for safety, and we would love to find someone with the equipment and the time to come and move gravel and lay out. an affordable area. The church will provide a fence, but we would like to find someone who could help us install it. This would save a lot of our budget.

And the budget is an ongoing struggle.

“Funding is tight,” Williams said. “We got a $15,000 grant from the Jefferson Foundation to hire Nikki Allemann, a former family court caseworker, as a part-time office manager, and she’s the only paid employee at the office. actual hour. I am not yet employed, and we are trying to solve this problem, but it has become more than a full time job for me and our family cannot bear it.

A local restaurant made things a bit easier though. White Castle at Festus reached out to Williams in late 2020, saying the company had chosen All For Family as the recipient of its “round up” campaign, in which customers donate change to a charitable cause.

“The first check in mid-2021 was just over $4,000,” she said. “They just presented us with the second one, for over $3,400, and they told us they’re adopting us again for 2022. It’s important to us, and we’re so grateful.”

All For Family has obtained 501c3 status as a nonprofit from the IRS, so all donations are tax deductible. For more information, go to the group’s website at allforfamily.net or visit its Facebook page at AllForFamily12. The email address is [email protected]

Virginia S. Braud