By Kiarra Solomon
In Philadelphia, about 3,000 children go into foster care each year. There are about 14,000 children in foster care right now and despite all of the support that is often put in place for these children and their families, many of them will not return to their homes, or even to family. If not adopted, these children will be emancipated from the system at age 18. While there are services and training that these youth receive if they are on that track, the statistics for foster care youth that age out of the system are very alarming. One out of every three males and one out of every five females in foster care will go on to either be homeless or in jail within two years of emancipation. Although the Department of Human Services does provide them with access to higher education and workforce development training, only two percent of youth in foster care will graduate from college. And while the Department of Human Services has recently refocused their objectives and are aiming to emancipate less children and reunify more families, there is still a lot of work to be done.
The Being Beautiful Foster Care Foundation was started by Valerie Crabbe and her husband Larry about two years ago to help solve some of these issues. The couple who adopted a little girl, Angela, about 10 years ago. At the time, Angela was considered a “therapeutic” foster child, which meant that she was on medication due to severe behavioral and/or mental issues. “I remember the other foster parents telling me I wasn’t going to be able to handle her, that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into”, Valerie said.
By the time Angela came to the Crabbe home she had been in 10 different foster homes. Although adopting Angela meant a total life change for both the Crabbes and their new daughter, with the love and support of her new family, gradually, Angela’s life began to normalize.
“We’d always had a lot of girls around because of Angela. We would do stuff with the girls, like go to an amusement park, or some other activity. One day, she asked me to start a girls club, to help some of the other foster children. She had a real heart for helping other children like her.” Eventually, the Being Beautiful Foundation was born.
The Being Beautiful Foundation exists to educate and promote awareness for families to get involved in the foster care network. Training and awareness campaigns and events occur in the Philadelphia and metropolitan areas in hopes of identifying and supporting families willing to provide a safe, stable and nurturing environment for youth the grow, learn and develop.
Being Beautiful Foundation works with youth currently placed in the foster care or residential care in Philadelphia. The organization offers several programs for these youth, including Camp Butterfly, a series of life enrichment workshops. These workshops educate, inspire and motivate children in foster care and equip them with the tools they need to succeed in life.
The organization not only provides support, mentoring and social activities for youth in foster care, but also provides support for foster parents. Their foster parent workshops are designed to provide current and future foster parents with information and support regarding the complex needs of youth in care. The sessions include information about the process for becoming foster parents, building necessary skills to most successfully love and nurture youth as well as peer support.
“What I realized by being a foster mother is that a lot of times foster parents feel left out too”, said Valerie. “It’s a tough job and it’s a lot of responsibility. So we help them learn to navigate the system, and provide them with support as well.”
Valerie is not only a foster parent but has also adopted another child, Audilia, three years ago. Valerie and Larry are also currently in the process of converting her home to be able to house more children.
“So many of the kids who are in foster care feel forgotten. That has to change. The Being Beautiful Foundation exists so that they know we have not forgotten about them.”
To find out more about the Being Beautiful Foundation or how you can support youth in foster care visit www.BeingBeautifulFoundation.org