ST. LOUIS — Since 1989, the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition has empowered foster children and parents.
One of its latest projects aims to attack a critical need in the community.
The re-launched program is called RESPOND and at the helm is director Jenny Jones.
"What we do is we seek to target recruitment for more Black and African American foster parents in the St. Louis region," Jones said. "Our main purpose and goal is for our children to go into culturally competent homes, homes that can connect them with their cultural needs and cultures ties."
According to the agency, in St. Louis alone, Black children represent nearly 70% of kids in foster care.
However, when it comes to Black foster parents, the group only makes up 13%.
"There is a large disparity," Jones said. "Our agency definitely looked at that and said we can do something about that."
The agency researched and learned how important the pairing can be.
"What they found is that when children are in homes that matches their cultural identity, their self-esteem is better, their self-confidence is better and overall they are healing from trauma better," Jones said.
Heather Craig has been fostering for seven years and has had about 30 children under her roof and guidance.
She's also joined the RESPOND team to recruit others like her.
"I think the most fulfilling thing is when I look like some of the parents that are coming into care. I had parents tell me they feel better about the situation. I feel like I have a connection with them because I share the same cultural identities as they do," Craig said.
Together, their goal is to attract more Black foster parents to help guide children and foster a bright future.
"The work that you will be doing will be impactful for that child, not just now, but the rest of their life," Jones said.
If you're interested in learning more, click here.