Foster kids receive support from All Star Children's Foundation ahead of school year
SARASOTA COUNTY (WSNN) - Kids are going back to school next week! But some students on the Suncoast need an extra helping hand when it comes to preparation, and they include those in foster care.
There are over 1400 children currently in foster care in Manatee, Sarasota, and DeSoto counties. And when these kids go back to school, they tend to have a more difficult time.
"A little bit more anxiety-provoking," All Star Children’s Foundation Campus Director Jolee Grobleski said. "A lot of kids in foster care don’t go to school consistently, and then when they enter foster care, they are not usually continuing at the same school they were the previous year."
So, the All Star Children’s Foundation staff tries to communicate with the school.
"So if there are any difficulties, they can expect it and handle it accordingly," Grobleski said.
All Star is a pediatric, treatment, and research center with a five-acre campus for foster children to live with full-time foster parents. During this time when school starts, we tend to see an increase in abuse reports.
"During the summer, there are fewer abuse reports called into the hotline because kids aren’t seen by mandated reporters like teachers," Grobleski said.
So, with the increase in abuse reporting, the demand for foster parents is going to be on the rise.
"I think overall, the three counties are struggling with foster parents," Grobleski said. "And there are not as many as there used to be. It’s a very tough job and unfortunately, there is just a very high need for it right now."
Many parents prepare their children’s school supplies so that they are ready for the first day. But kids in foster care might not have that opportunity.
"They are going to show up and not have pencils on the first day, not have a paper on the first day," All Star Children’s Foundation Chief Development Officer Stephen Fancher said. "So, just being able to give them that helps them with their own self-confidence knowing that they’re going to show up to school prepared just like every other kid."
So, in the spirit of keeping things fun while preparing kids for school, this week, All Star staff coordinated a back-to-school bingo for the kids and families on campus to win some school supplies.
"A lot of these kids have never experienced anything like it," All Star Children’s Foundation Campus Coordinator Camilla King said. "It’s just a fun time for them to get excited about going back to school."
The community is very supportive of helping kids in foster care. All of the school supplies in this bingo game were fully paid for by a random bystander in line at the grocery store.
"This lady right behind me in line kindly was like, 'Let me pay for that,'" King said. "And I was like, 'I’m not sure if you saw how much this was.' And she said, 'No I saw it.' And kindly offered to pay for the full cart of school supplies. So, that was about 400 dollars worth that she just took on."
Partner organizations like Living 127 and other volunteers on the Suncoast also supported All Star in preparing its kids and families for school.
All Star Children’s Foundation is always in need of foster parents to live on campus, so if you’re interested, you can get more details here.