We will build a camp that can accept children night and day, with welcoming staff and the services kids need.
a "Soft Landing"
We are developing a therapeutic camp-like facility where children, ages 6 through 17, will find an immediate safe place to stay for up to 30 days while preparing for their first placement with a foster family. This facility will result in more successful first placements and fewer multiple placements. This camp will accept children anytime, day or night, with welcoming staff and the services kids need. Our camp will be a “soft landing” from the chaotic trauma leading to their removal from the home. Our focus will be on reinforcing the supportive family ties whenever possible. For those children who enter care but are quickly returned to a family member’s home in the first 30 days, our camp will be a much less traumatic experience. Whenever possible, we will have provisions for siblings to stay together.
Let the Healing Begin
Children will receive individualized tutoring, counseling and help in learning coping strategies. All staff will be trained in Trauma Informed Care and will understand the importance of creating a sense of safety and loving support. The camp will provide recreational activities that create a sense of adventure, develop self-esteem, and provide for healthy interaction between staff and fellow campers. Creating a supportive, welcoming environment is core to our mission. The children will be with peers who are in a similar situation, receiving the comfort of knowing they are not alone in their struggles. Activities including music, drama, camp fires, friendly competition, humorous skits, and thought provoking messages will also add to the camp experience.
Because a child will not be rushed into just any foster home that has an available bed, we will have time to provide the state ordered emotional, psychological, academic, and medical assessments to aid in finding the best possible foster family. Being placed in a foster family will be presented and celebrated as a positive step during a very difficult time.
Our counselors will also explain to the children their rights and responsibilities thus giving them a voice. They will get their questions answered regarding what is happening to them, their parents, and their siblings.
As placement is facilitated, children will have the opportunity to meet their potential foster families in a safe, fun setting prior to placement. In order to aid a smooth transition, there will be time to retrieve personal items (stuffed animal, Seahawk jersey, etc.) from their home prior to placement in a foster family since most children leave only with a garbage bag of quickly assembled belongings.
At the camp, we will have the space and ability to support relationships for the children. Volunteer opportunities at the camp will lead to sustained relationships with mentors, CASA volunteers, and others.
On average 38% of the children brought into care return to a family member within the first 30 days, having up to a 30 day transition period at the camp will result in a reduction in the need to identify licensed foster families. This will lead to a reduced need for foster families in general.
As an example, on average 42 children enter into foster care each month in King County. That means on average we will only need to locate 26 licensed foster families each month rather than 42 since 16 will return to family members within 30 days.
Having children new to the system in one location will help to centralize services, thus increasing the effectiveness of social workers.