By Guest Blogger Blair Somers, Board Member of Anchor Hope
Did you know there are currently over 17,000 children in the North Carolina Foster Care system alone? Once a child is pulled from their biological family there is an interim period where the Department of Social Services searches for a foster family or group home for the child to live. Infants and younger children are typically placed within hours, but sibling sets and teenagers are often much harder to find placement for. The child is taken to the Department of Social Services office while placement is trying to be arranged. Often this means the child will sleep on a bench at the office and eat food from the vending machines. This is where Anchor Hope fills in the gap.
Anchor Hope was founded in 2018 by Anna Brown, Michelle Pyle, and Valerie Rogers after they witnessed the need to support foster children when they are first entering the foster care system. Anchor Hope opened a local Community Resource Center that provides a home-like setting where children can come and stay with their social worker while they await placement with a foster family. While there, the children have access to their own bed, warm meals, baths, clean clothing, books, toys and a playground. This home-like setting helps reduce the trauma that is experienced after being separated from the child’s biological family and then having to live in office with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Also, it relieves some of the pressure on the DSS staff to rush and place a child with the first family that can provide a place. In return, having more time to find a good fit for the child will cut down on foster placement disruptions due to being a poor fit from the beginning. Recently the Community Resource Center has opened its doors to welcome sibling groups that have been separated to come together for weekly visits!
In addition to supporting children entering the foster care system, Anchor Hope also partners with DSS to train teenagers that are aging out of the system. One in every five teenagers who age out of the foster care system does not have a home to go to once they turn 18. Anchor Hope educates teens ages 13 to 18 through a program called “Life Skills.” The training focuses on money management, continuing their education, nutrition, applying for jobs, personal communication skills, and helping them obtain housing and furnishings if needed. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 50 children attended the Life Skills training course. We are looking forward to the program resuming as soon as it is safe to do so.
While the children in foster care are the driving force behind Anchor Hope, the organization also rallies behind foster families to help support them with needs that come along. Children often come to their foster home with no personal belongings, so we have assisted families with clothing, toiletries, car seats, strollers, furniture, and toys. Over the holidays we were able to provide kinship placement families with turkey and ham dinners along with all the trimmings.
Anchor Hope is totally volunteer based operating on donations from the community and grants. This year has been a huge challenge as we had to cancel our annual fundraising events such as the spaghetti dinner, spring yard sale/craft fair, and garden party. We are so grateful for the community members who have stepped up and donated to our online fundraising campaign through social media and purchased items off the Amazon wish list. As the budget tightens, the children are still coming into foster care and Anchor Hope could not continue without the support of our wonderful community members!
If you would like to learn more about Anchor Hope, our mission, or how you can help please visit our platforms:
Read about more non-profits and ways to volunteer in our other “Doing Good Things” blogs here!
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