Angels' Arms offers more than a helping hand to foster parents

It's often said home is where the heart is and there's a lot heart at this home.

"I took in my first child in 1993," explains Barb Bocklage.

She's opened her arms and her doors to more than 30 foster kids.

"Actually as a child I grew up next to a foster family so I played with foster kids as a child and when I was young I knew this is always what I wanted to do," she adds.

But providing a home and everything else children need isn't always easy and it certainly isn't cheap. That's something Bess Wilfong learned rather quickly when she was a foster mom.

"Missouri is one of the lowest supporting states for foster care. To get this tiny stipend to care for a child it really barely even covers the food," Wilfong points out.

Thankfully she had family and friends always wanting to lend a hand and that's what sparked the idea for Angels' Arms.

"When you have multiple kids living under one, the biggest thing I think you can do for a foster parent is say we're going to provide you this house and we'll take care of it. We'll do the maintenance of it so you can focus on these needs," Wilfong explains.

Angels' Arms opened it's first home in 2003.

"They don't have to think about a mortgage payment. They don't have to think if my furnace breaks how will I do this," Wilfong adds.

It allows Foster parents like Barb to focus on parenting. It also allows her to do more for the kids.

"It just opens up the budget to get them things that normal teenagers have. So sports and drivers ed, just all sorts of things I never could have done for them as an individual," Bocklage says.

Angels' Arms now has ten homes in the St. Louis area, but this not-for-profit does more than pay the bills. It allows siblings to stay together and it's a support system.

"Usually you're very isolated as a foster family and with Angels' Arms you're not, you're together as a huge family that's a support system," Bocklage explains.


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