39th Circuit Angels making a difference for foster children
Small non-profit organization makes big impact on foster kids
Most foster parents have an altruistic desire to help children in crisis find security.
They do so by providing a safe home environment, along with the love and support to assist a child in adjusting to a new set of life circumstances and thrive in the face of adversity. While most foster parents have big hearts, many of the costs associated with taking in a foster child or foster children is a huge strain on the wallet.
To help alleviate some of the financial burden not covered by the state-approved stipend, which ranges from $300 to $396 a month for room, board, clothing and incidentals, a former investigator with the Missouri Division of Children's Services, Kara Coley, and her mother, Debbi Netzer, came up with the idea of forming a non-profit organization, Angels for Children of the 39th Circuit, to assist local foster families with some of those needs.
"We work strictly with the Children's Division in Barry, Lawrence and Stone counties," Coley said. "The case managers of these children are the only ones that can request funds from our organization. This is how we guarantee all money stays with our local foster children."
Coley, who serves as secretary and treasurer for the organization, has seen firsthand the needs of these children.
"More often than not, when a child is removed from their home and brought into the custody of the State of Missouri, they are often in need of basic necessities," she said.
While it is the goal of the Children's Division to try to place children with family members, they often do not have the financial means to care for these children.
"In an effort to keep the child 'out of the system,' many times we'll find grandparents, aunts, uncles or other extended family members accepting the responsibility," Coley said. "That is where our organization can step in and help provide the things the children need. Often, that will include everything from clothing to a bed to sleep in.
"I have removed children from homes at all hours of the day and night. In those cases, they literally have only the clothes on their backs. I have had multiple babies and toddlers that who are found with only a few diapers and one bottle of rotten milk and no fresh formula or milk."
Request forms for assistance are provided to the Children's Division Case Managers of foster children residing in the 39th Circuit. When the foster parent fills out the request, with the specific needs listed, along with the amount of money needed to meet these needs, the Angels board of directors will meet and vote on the request.
"If the majority of the board feels it is something that our organization can help with, the funds are distributed or the item is bought and the family's case manager can pick it up from one of the board members."
The list of approvable expenditures is quite extensive.
"We can help families of these kids with everything from groceries to school supplies and fees for extra-curricular activities," Coley said. "So, many times, foster children can't participate in after school activities or play sports because the funds are just not there and the family is struggling. We believe that every foster child should have the opportunity to play sports, play an instrument in the band, sing in choir, go to camp and take part in other typical youth and teen activities."
Angels relies on donations made to the organization through individuals and civic organizations.
"Anyone can ask to see where the donations are used," Coley said. "Our books are always open for someone to review. We want everything to be transparent so people can see that their money is being used for the foster children in Barry, Lawrence, and Stone counties."
Angels will host its first fundraiser Oct. 29 at the VFW Hall in Monett. The event will feature a live band, a catered dinner, dance and a silent auction.
Those wishing to make donations to the organization may send them to: Angels For Children, 325 South Cedarbrook, Monett, MO 65708. Donors may request a receipt, which will be mailed within 24 hours.
For more information on Angels for Children of the 39th Circuit, people may call Coley at 417-669-3137.