December 9, 2021 / Mom &… Podcast Episode 48 / Guests: Ellen Evans from Foster Village, Inc. and Kristin Finan from Carrying Hope
Note: Originally scheduled to be the December Tipsy Ellipses episode, this recording became a numbered show. Tipsy Technical Troubles Took Toll. (Sorry, we had to.) If you are looking for December’s Tipsy Ellipses, this is it. Sort of. Also, we realized after the fact that some listeners may not be familiar with the acronym, CWOP, which is mentioned several times and stands for Children Without Placement, essentially foster kids without a housing placement.
Tech troubles aside, this episode was a thrill for us. We got to welcome two people who are very special to us, and talk about their organizations that also have a home in our hearts.
Susanne is a volunteer and board member for Carrying Hope, an organization that provides necessities to children in foster care. Missy is a volunteer CASA and foster care advocate, who happens to be related to one of the founders of Foster Village, an organization that helps bridge the gaps between caregivers and those who want to help.
Kristin Finan from Carrying Hope and Ellen Evans from Foster Village talked with us about volunteer opportunities in their organizations. We also spoke about the state of foster care, ways to learn more about the foster care system, and ways to get involved, no matter how much time you have available.
More About Ellen Evans and Foster Village
Ellen and her family began their journey into the world of foster care in 2013 when they became a licensed foster home. They have since developed a passion for supporting and encouraging fellow foster parents, biological families, and the vulnerable children at the center of it all.
Ellen helped launch Foster Village in 2016 and continues to pour her heart, time, and energy into our mission. Ellen has a degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University, teaching certification, and professional experience in the field of Early Childhood Intervention and Special Education.
Ellen is trained in trauma-informed care of children who have adverse childhood experiences and continues to provide respite care to multiple foster families on an ongoing basis while keeping things running smoothly at our Oak Haven resource center.
Foster parents often feel tired and alone. Most families foster for less than a year, citing burnout and lack of support as the reason they stop. At the same time, 85 percent of people who are not foster parents say they care about vulnerable children and want to help.
Foster Village bridges this gap between foster families and caregivers and those who want to help, meeting practical needs and providing holistic support beyond the system. They do this by equipping caregivers, connecting families, and advocating for change.
More About Kristin Finan and Carrying Hope
Kristin is a lifelong Austinite and proud Longhorn who set a goal of becoming a foster parent as a teen after befriending a group of children who lived in a foster home in her South Austin neighborhood. In 2015, she and her husband and their two young biological daughters realized that goal by becoming a licensed foster family that has since welcomed a half-dozen children in various crisis situations. They had the great joy of adopting their now-7-year-old son in 2017, followed by the adoption of their now-8-year-old daughter in 2020, both out of the foster care system. Kristin, a firm believer that hope is always stronger than fear, has been humbled and honored to help grow Carrying Hope from a small neighborhood project to a full-fledged 501c3 nonprofit that has made a difference for thousands of Texas children. Learn more about Kristin’s foster care journey by reading her series, Heartbreak and Hope, which was published in the Austin American-Statesman in 2017, at mystatesman.com/fostercare.
Carrying Hope is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a goal of giving a Hope Pack filled with comfort items and necessities to every child entering the foster care system in Texas.
Topics From This Episode (Complete transcript is available below… scroll to the bottom!
Take A Chance on Me – short film about foster care
Burke Center for Youth Wish List (lots of shoes!)
Connect with Foster Village
Connect with Carrying Hope
Carrying Hope website – find information about making Hope Packs
Buy tickets for the Carrying Hope Gala
Sign up for the newsletter – email firstname.lastname@example.org
Connect with CASA
Look, Listen, Learn
Ellen – Maid
Kristin – Kay’s Hair Extensions (bonnets); age-appropriate discussion around racism
Susanne – Social-Emotional Learning; Sarah Maizes
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Transcript* From This Episode
*Please note that this transcript is automatically generated through our editing software. Expect odd errors and misunderstood words. In fact, if you find a really funny one, send it to us, and we may feature it – and you – on our socials!
[00:00:00] Susanne: . Welcome to the mom and dot.dot podcast. I’m Susanne Kerns, a mom and dot.dot writer, LGBTQ ally, and today a half marathon trainer.
I mean, literally today as of about a half hour ago. So.
[00:00:40] Missy: So proud of you and I’m Missy Stevens mom and dot.dot writer, foster care advocate, and today holiday list-maker and list-maker and list maker.
[00:00:51] Susanne: They just go and go,
[00:00:52] Missy: let’s go. Guess what? I haven’t crossed off a thing. Um, maybe maybe one or two things.
[00:00:58] Susanne: oh,
[00:00:59] Missy: supposed to be having tipsy ellipses. We’re supposed to be recording this live on our Facebook group, but major, major technical difficulties tonight.
So it’s just like a regular number episode. We would as an episode anyway. So the only difference is you didn’t get to watch us live on Facebook. All five of you who show up every month to watch it’s live on Facebook.
[00:01:19] Susanne: but you can still go watch it at our YouTube channels that we’ll put a link to that in the show notes.
[00:01:24] Missy: Yeah. And so we’re really excited. We want to talk about holiday giving, but not just like a great gift list, what to give your best friend or your mom.
We really want to talk about the spirit of giving to local organizations and how that needs to extend way past December. So when the inflatable snowman has gone from the yard, we still need to have that spirit. And we’re going to talk about how to help our community all year round.
[00:01:48] Susanne: Yes. And as Missy says in her introduction every week, she is a foster care advocate. And so to kick things off before we officially introduce our guests for today, we’d like to have her talk a little bit about what being a CASA means. Am I even saying that
right? Missy? So
[00:02:07] Missy: Yeah, I, you say being a CASA.
[00:02:09] Susanne: Okay. That is a pre.
[00:02:10] Missy: And I say it a lot in the episodes. I talk about CASA, but it’s true. A lot of people don’t know. And in a lot of parts of the country, it’s a guardian ad litem. It’s not called a Casa. So you may hear it. Casa is a court appointed special advocate. So you may hear it as Casa, or you may hear you hear it as guardian ad litem.
and really there’s two reasons. I am a Casa. One is I was in a sorority in college. I was a Theta and our national charity as Thetas is Casa. So I’ve known about CASA for a long time and thought it sounded like the coolest gig ever, but I didn’t think I was ready. I know now I was wrong. A lot of people can be a CASA. It does not. Special knowledge, you get trained to know what you need to know. Um, but that’s kind of hindsight. And then the other reason I am a Casa actually has a lot to do with Ellen and her husband, my brother.
, and we’ll introduce Ellen and Kristin in a minute, but Ellen and my brother were foster. Parents still are technically foster parents. They just don’t have foster children. Right. Kind of like your, keep your stuff up to date. , they don’t have any foster kids in their home right now. but they had a particular foster child and, , this child’s bio parent were caught in this loop of like, they can’t get this because she doesn’t have custody, but she can’t get custody because she doesn’t have this.
And it was just like this never ending loop of red tape and bureaucratic stuff.
[00:03:32] Susanne: cycle. Yeah.
[00:03:33] Missy: they didn’t have a lot of help to go through it. And then luckily they had really good, like a really good foster family on their side, but not everybody has even that. And not everybody has the time or the resources to do that as a foster family.
And, had this child had a Casa then maybe things would have gone faster, maybe not, who knows, but hearing that with kind of solidified in me, like I need to go ahead and do this. I’ve always thought about doing it and I need to do it.
But, , I’ve been doing it for a little over two years, I guess. And don’t currently have a case. I had four. In two different cases, but they were all related and they have all graduated out of foster care, in one way or another. Um, so I’m currently just doing , continuing ed
but, um, if anybody, as we talk tonight is interested, I can get you more info. And it’s just a fascinating look inside the system and an amazing way to really connect with children and families. whether it’s their bio family, their foster family, their future adoptive family, whatever that combination looks like, to connect with people and help people get to where they’re going.
Um, it’s complicated process. So they need a lot of help.
[00:04:45] Susanne: Oh, and they’re lucky to have you, but I know that you feel like you’re lucky to be in this position and be able to help. So,
and that’s one of the things we want to talk about tonight. And I think we talked about this with our, we had the repeat episode with Nancy Davis Kho for but this idea that advocacy or activism or whatever it is, It doesn’t have to be a full-time job.
be, we’re going to talk to Kristin and Ellen, where it is it a job and a career option,
but it’s also a really cool option for people who want to volunteer or get involved on the board level. So we
can talk a little bit about that, but instead of just hearing about us talking about, we wanted to introduce, , two of our favorite people from two of our favorite organizations that also support, , foster care foster kids and foster families.
So, um, , I think since you are technically related by law, you can introduce your guests first, Missy.
[00:05:40] Missy: Okay. Well, our first guest is Ellen Evans and she is with foster village. And I’m going to let her in a minute talk about foster village, but it’s pretty, pretty amazing. And Ellen is my sister-in-law. She is married to my brother, which makes her a very patient loving kind saintly woman.
[00:05:58] Susanne: Oh, but But he was also, a
[00:06:00] Missy: was on our show.
[00:06:01] Susanne: our BR on our, I must say brother’s day on our father’s day episode. We had our brothers come. So that was
really fun. You’ve had the whole family practically.
[00:06:09] Missy: the whole family. Like I, yeah. Now we just need to get, yeah. My mother would love to come on. We need to do a mother’s day episode.
Um, so yeah, Ellen, if you want to tell us a little bit about foster village and yourself, your mom and NES
[00:06:22] Ellen: yes, I’m mom and I’m director of operations for foster village. And foster village about five years ago. when we were in the foster care process. And just like Missy said, we, , had a case that was, , difficult in lots of ways. And one of the ways was, just trying to help a biological parent and not being able to, , and trying to be that support for her that, , is not always found.
at the same time feeling like there wasn’t, , a lot of support for us. And trying to do that. And so I met , another, friend of a friend who was going through a very similar process and we realized that we lived in the same town and didn’t even know one another. And, we just thought, this is like the bottom line right here is why do we not know one another?
, and that is crystal Smith, the director of foster village. So we decided to come together and try and make a change, , to bridge that gap between the community the foster care system, um, to try and build not only those connections between foster parents, between one another, but also to the community itself, because everybody always says, how can we help?
What can we do? when you’re a foster parent, it just it’s like, Ugh, I don’t know. , you know, there’s nothing right then. And there that like the answer to that question,
[00:07:43] Missy: Right.
[00:07:44] Ellen: things, but it’s just a hard question to answer.
[00:07:48] Susanne: Yeah.
[00:07:48] Ellen: so we want to come in and answer that question for the community and say, this is what you can do.
This is how you can help because everybody can have their place, and helping these children. These are our community’s children, and we all have a way to help and support, and we just have to. figure out what our place is. , and like you’re saying Susanne, whether that’s advocacy or activism or whether it’s Casa or, , a career or a foster parents, there’s a million ways to help.
And so it could be as simple as volunteering with a meal. so our goal is to come alongside family and bridge that gap to find, that help, and help to sustain those foster families so that they can continue to foster.
[00:08:29] Susanne: That is amazing. And I know that you probably run in the same circles as our next guest, Kristin Finan
and who is , she’s a mom and.dot dot, , co-founder of Carrying hope. And also recently Austin travels magazine, which that’s
a whole nother subject, but that was
so exciting. Um, and also a writer, foster mom, adoptive mom, and more.
And so Kristin . We’ve kind of talked about in past episodes, some of the things that Carrying hope does, , but, , there’s nothing like hearing it straight from the founder as far as, uh, where Carrying hope started and what it serves in our.
[00:09:05] Kristin: And I feel just like so excited seeing all three of you on screen. , this is a lovely experience. We’ve known Ellen and crystal. Since the beginning, I think we founded in 2016, like the exact same month and have been great, uh, friends and peers since then. And so , we love foster village
just love our partnerships with them too. And miss C your experience as a Casa, I’ve heard you talk about it before and Casa is, were instrumental to my personal, , cases in my family and so grateful for what you do. My partner Mauri at Carrying hope is a Casa and y’all are incredible. And then Susanne has literally been with us from the beginning as we were.
[00:09:41] Missy: Yes she has.
[00:09:42] Kristin: to figure out what we were doing. And I know she’s talked about it before, but on Saturday she was sitting in our van with a laptop, like hammering away about what the Christmas gifts were that were coming in. And I just love all of you ladies, which just wonderful to be here.
But, um, Carrying Hope, we founded in 2016, I’m a foster mom and adoptive mom also, , as mentioned and. We’re up here in Austin and really had always dreamed of being a foster mom, actually, after meeting a foster home, that was in my neighborhood in Southwest Austin, in Western Oaks. And lived two streets over for me.
It was a group home. It was nine kiddos and I was 12 and 13 and bored in the summer. We actually went over and knocked on the door and tried to get them to come to a summer camp. We were holding because we thought if we could get nine kids, we would like make a lot of money having a nurse, our camp,
[00:10:30] Missy: Oh, love
[00:10:32] Kristin: mom was like, Hmm, that might be a little much, but y’all can come over and hang out and volunteering your time.
And so my friends and I, Rachel, who was one of the co-founders, um, appearing up also, just started going over and hanging out because their house was more interesting than ours. And we became dear friends. , with, with a lot of the kids there and they’re still in touch with many of them. And in particular that I became very close to.
. He graduated high school against all odds after going through, really horrific experiences in, in some treatment centers and shelters. Um, he was riding his bike to work one day, , when he was in his twenties and we had had to, my husband, I had married, I had told him like on her second date, like we’re going to be foster parents one day
and then, , the foster child that I was really close to growing up, he actually got killed. , a distracted driver, hit him while he was riding his bike. And day I said, okay, this is it. We need to do it now. Now’s the time, you know, we’ve got two bio daughters, we’re busy if we don’t do it now, maybe we won’t do it.
And so we put in our application with helping hand home here in Austin and have not been foster parents for seven years. And it’s been a long and winding journey as Ellen I know can relate to. Um, and, uh, we’ve had. Uh, a little bit bigger family than we anticipated.
Our hard stop was four. And then two of our foster daughters came back. So now we’ve got six in our house, but it’s been an amazing journey. And through that journey, , we started carrying hope because accept emergency placements. And, , when you accept emergency placements, children are coming from a very traumatic situation and don’t have time, you know, frequently to pack up their things.
So we had the experience of literally having children on our doorstep with absolutely nothing. You know, the other narrative is they’re coming with one or two items in a trash bag either way, seeing them, um, experiencing this with them on the worst day of their lives was really sobering. And it was hard to believe that this was the way that they were still arriving, you know, this many years later.
And so. My partner, Mauri and I, and our co-founder Rachel just decided, , what, if we come up with an idea for hope packs hope packs have everything that a child would need for the first 24 to 48 hours in a new home. So it’s brand new clothing, books, flashlights, nightlights, um, activities, toiletry kits, you know, just anything we could think of that would be essential and also just bring them some comfort.
And so we’ve been very fortunate that Austin, has come through for us and we’ve been able to grow and we’ve been able to distribute to every region across Texas. And we opened a Houston branch year, and then we’ve got some other exciting things that we’re working on to, to try to, , expand the services that we’re able to offer.
So we’re just grateful to be here and just excited to be part of the community here with you all.
[00:13:07] Missy: It’s
[00:13:07] Susanne: my gosh. I know.
[00:13:09] Missy: Yeah.
[00:13:09] Susanne: Obviously, I know what Carrying Hope does, but every time
I hear Kristin story,
I get so inspired as just so amazing. So what I would really love the audience to know more about is kind of like, okay, let’s say I have an hour a month or an hour a week or an hour a day.
Like, what are kind of the different things either in your particular organizations or. The other organizations that you partner with , that also serve foster kids kind of just to give them a feel for the wide variety of things that people can do, even if someone’s like, I’m so busy. I don’t have any time.
I mean, Kristin knows there are months and months where literally the only thing I accomplish is the Carrying hope, newsletter. I mean,
so, I mean, it can even just be like, I just do this
thing once a month.
[00:13:57] Kristin: by the way, sign up for it because Susanne is
[00:14:01] Susanne: comes every month ish,
[00:14:04] Missy: ours, which comes every quarterish.
[00:14:06] Susanne: exactly Ben. No, I mean, so there’s, depending on what you’re, you know, if you’re good at web development or newsletters, you know, people can use that or, you know, maybe designing a logo or going in, if you want to do more manual labor, it can be. that side. So I just love to hear for each of your organizations kind of the variety of things that are available, depending on what someone’s skills are or what their availability is.
[00:14:31] Ellen: so at foster village we have, , a lot of different options and they really span, , all the different timeframe. we try to make it as flexible and easy as possible for people to get involved. So we have two resource centers, one in Dripping Springs, which is our original ones.
Cause that’s where crystal and I lived. And then we expanded to a resource center up in north Austin. if you have an hour a week, then you could, or not even an hour a month, um, you could make a meal and we have, , what we call our village in action, where we connect, , people kind of like. , to directly to foster families, where there’s can do, , a meal, you can do, you can mow a lawn. You could, um, do some babysitting while the parent is in the home,
[00:15:18] Kristin: Yeah.
[00:15:18] Ellen: they need to do some cleaning and organizing, and they need somebody to watch the at the time or anything. so we have, um, those types of, smaller And then we have working in the resource centers, where you might come and spend a couple hours a month. but that’s a pretty, some people come once every quarter. Some people come once a month, some people come weekly, so , it’s a matter of signing up and how often you. And that’s a lot of sorting and organizing and bringing in our inventory
[00:15:48] Kristin: Yeah.
[00:15:49] Ellen: packing bags.
one of the things that we do is equip families with what they need kind of after the hope packs. So, um, the hope packs come in for those first 24 to 48 hours. , they have those jammies that they need to sleep in , that first night. And then, , what we do is, , after that, where either the CPS workers or the Casas, or the foster families themselves reach out and say, We have this new placement that came last night.
this is now what we’re needing. And so then we are able to fill in with the next week’s worth of clothing and the beds in car seats and, things like that. So some of the bigger items that, people don’t necessarily have if they weren’t planning on placement, , a lot of times kids are placed with, , kinship families, family that they know already, and maybe, , , the kinship family just a call from CPS to say, Hey, we have your niece and nephew.
Can you take them? And they’re like, we don’t have any beds.
[00:16:48] Susanne: Yeah.
[00:16:48] Ellen: so show up then with the beds, so that they’re able to say, yes, we want the kinship families to be able to say, yeah. a lot of volunteers are able to come in and help pack those bags, with the right size clothing and the bottles or the formula or the, know, whatever is needed at the time.
And so another volunteer opportunity that we have is delivery, you can it’s, , just through an app and you can just sign up when you want to, actually make those deliveries to the family. and so we just throw it out there and we say, Hey, we’ve got this family, know, in this part of town, can you deliver some time today?
And then people just respond back and say, yes, I can make that. , so, , those are a couple of different ways to volunteer even just, , a little bit of time.
[00:17:35] Susanne: Yeah.
[00:17:35] Ellen: other things like parents’ night out and donation drives and things like that,
[00:17:40] Susanne: And,
and so , for people who, , they have more, maybe money than time, some cases, um, I’m assuming there’s donation, uh, lists on the site as far as things that
y’all need and top requests and that type of thing to you.
[00:17:54] Ellen: absolutely. We have our wishlist
[00:17:56] Susanne: So we’ll have, we
[00:17:58] Missy: a lot of shoes on that wishlist right now, like fancy tennis shoes. So if you
have a hankering, somebody
[00:18:07] Ellen: no, but I
[00:18:08] Missy: That’s Christmas, right?
[00:18:10] Ellen: our Burke center
[00:18:11] Missy: Yes. Yeah, Yeah,
[00:18:14] Ellen: boys’ home out in dripping that we specially do at Christmas to provide the boys. Um, the items that they are specifically wanting, so they got to sign up for what shoes they wanted. And, yes, they’re weighed.
We try to get them the shoes that they want at, at this time of year. And they always look forward to it and are so excited. , so that wishlist is rolling right now and definitely needs, , to be, um, on whatever links we have out there.
[00:18:44] Susanne: We’ll get all that in the show notes. So,
[00:18:47] Missy: And your wishlist, like your regular wishlist that goes all the time is updated with what you need then. Cause I don’t, it’s hard to
explain the resource centers if you haven’t seen them. But I mean, they are full of stuff and it looks like a beautiful store. They’re really lovely.
, but at times they may have hundreds of pajamas and sizes, you know, zero to four. And so they need them in other sizes, whatever. So the list is specific to what you’re lacking and you take new
Not use stuff. Yeah.
[00:19:19] Ellen: Exactly. Yes. We’re
[00:19:20] Susanne: yeah.
[00:19:20] Ellen: new items and we try to, to change that wishlist around right now, we’re completely out of infant toys,
[00:19:26] Susanne: Hm.
[00:19:27] Ellen: gone.
[00:19:28] Missy: one
[00:19:28] Ellen: can’t keep them in stock.
[00:19:30] Missy: interesting.
[00:19:31] Ellen: so, um, we try to also do donation drives that, target those specific, um, areas. So,
[00:19:38] Susanne: Got it.
[00:19:39] Ellen: and then there’s certain things that we always need.
We can’t keep newborn and premie diapers and those are always gone to,
[00:19:46] Susanne: Yeah,
[00:19:46] Ellen: size five. I don’t know why size five size five does not stay in stock.
[00:19:51] Susanne: because those are the expensive ones.
[00:19:54] Missy: maybe mate. Yeah.
[00:19:56] Susanne: a bunch of people like me. Like I want to do something really good. That makes me feel nice. And like, I did something, but I want to spend $19, not 40. So yeah, I think, yeah, the generosity sometimes sees the price tag. I remember buying those diapers. I was like, holy cow.
[00:20:14] Missy: a raise when you’re done with them.
[00:20:15] Susanne: but you know what we learned about that? Oh gosh, who was? Tell me which guest it was Missy that was telling us about the diaper issues, where
[00:20:25] Missy: Oh,
[00:20:26] Susanne: can not go get their kids into childcare unless they provide diapers. But
diapers are not considered a WIC item.
[00:20:35] Missy: There’s something like the ad, their funding or their. The subsidies
[00:20:39] Susanne: you can’t use it, you can’t use food stamps for
like, there’s a particular thing that the government funding does not cover diapers.
[00:20:48] Missy: that was in the show notes. It’s like right here. I
[00:20:50] Susanne: I want to say it was Lisen Stromberg who was telling us
[00:20:53] Missy: might be,
[00:20:54] Susanne: Um, but there’s this, I mean, it’s just this horrible.
[00:20:58] Missy: again that
[00:20:59] Susanne: in the cycle where,
again, it’s like, you can’t go get a job unless you get your kid in childcare, but you can’t go to childcare unless you can afford these.
we were just saying astronomically
expensive diapers, and you cannot use the money that you are getting from supplemental care to cover diapers.
[00:21:19] Missy: Right.
[00:21:20] Susanne: like,
[00:21:21] Missy: Nana’s
[00:21:22] Susanne: mean, that could be, I mean,
[00:21:24] Ellen: back to this? But look, listen and learn. I want to talk about that
[00:21:27] Susanne: okay. Let’s, let’s
talk more about diapers. I’m really into diapers after learning about that stat.
Kristen, I am very familiar with your holiday drive. Cause we are very busy this
weekend, getting all these, but since, since the listeners are not as familiar with the holiday drive and some of the stuff that ways that people can volunteer with carrying hope or getting involved, if they prefer to donate versus donate or money versus time, tell us all the variety of stuff you’ve got.
[00:21:55] Kristin: Yes, there’s lots of fun stuff. We just wrapped up our, holiday drive in Houston and in Austin. And we, , collected gifts for children, , in more than 300 foster homes. That was really exciting to always do that in December. And those have all been, , distributed. Of course opportunities throughout the year.
we’re always looking for, delivery drivers also didn’t go pick up hope packs from a location, them, take them to, people that have just received emergency placements. Our model is that we directly to CPS and the foster care agencies. So ideally have a stock of our hope packs.
And so if the CPS worker knows they’re going to place a six year old, they can go into the rainbow room and grab. A Hope pack for six year old girl, and then the Hope pack will be there on the doorstep and I did want to mention, we include magnets, , in our hope packs that shout out the other organizations.
And I wanted to mention too, that foster village actually brought me a bed for our daughter when she came as an emergency placement. And
[00:22:52] Susanne: Hm.
[00:22:53] Kristin: house. We were like, not expecting it. got a Hope pack, but I was like, we need a bed. And within 24 hours, we had a bed for her and we just love you guys.
So what we do is in Hope packs, we a magnet. It’s like, Hey, you gotta have a pack today. because they don’t know about the resources for me. You know, when we became emergency placement, uh, foster parents, thought we’d have time to like, do all the. And we got a call at 10:00 AM.
The first day we were on the list to
[00:23:17] Ellen: Oh, wow.
[00:23:19] Kristin: Literally it was like, Hey, you’re ready. Right.
[00:23:22] Ellen: Hmm.
[00:23:23] Kristin: research and we were scrambling around. And so, of course foster village is very well known. Now , but we want to make sure that people know the resources there, you know, every way they possibly can.
So that’s why we put a magnet there and shout out our wonderful peers. And, um, I love foster village personally for that reason too. , but yeah, we do need delivery drivers also. And, , there are a bunch of opportunities from home, which we really of course, , ramped up, , due to COVID,
[00:23:47] Missy: Yeah.
[00:23:47] Kristin: , we always love it when people make Hope Packs
um, and we really, part of the reason we started carrying hope is we wanted ways to get back with our kids. And so making pack, you know, maybe with a child of your own, for a child that’s entering foster care at the same age can be a really meaningful opportunity. It can also be a source of massive tantrums if you’re at target.
And you’ve got like a three-year-old that doesn’t understand why these toys aren’t for them. It’s
[00:24:13] Missy: Oh, that stuff. Yeah.
[00:24:14] Kristin: initiation for people. Like okay. You’re still teaching them about giving. You did a good thing. Like, just because he had a tantrum doesn’t mean it was a bad thing, but that happens too.
Um, but I mean, anybody making a Hope pack is, is incredibly special for us, but especially kids, we have a kids program called hopes, heroes, in addition to making a hope pack, kiddos can go through a variety of things. Like, you know, making a speech about foster care at their school, I’m recording a video to share with friends and family.
we have a life-size mascot called the hedgehog that Susanne was very familiar with also. And,
[00:24:49] Missy: Have you ever been hope the hedgehog?
[00:24:52] Susanne: I have not.
[00:24:54] Missy: of want that gig.
[00:24:55] Kristin: uh, you are welcome to if you’d like to come on in that volunteer capacity, we are always looking usually it’s me and it’s not my fave. Um, we now have a smaller one called Hetch the hedgehog two. So there’s options you, if you do want it to come do it together, that might be a lovely opportunity for Eva. Um, but we have her at events and she’s always encouraging the kiddos. So it’s called Hope’s heroes because that’s our life size hedgehog. And so they can accumulate points. And then if they, , get up to 300, they get a stuffed animal and their picture on our wall. And, , some other exciting things. We are always looking for corporate.
Opportunities. We’ll have companies that say, Hey, can we make 50 help packs? And we can bring out supplies and they can do that as, as kind of a cork break gig. are another amazing, you know, we’ll have people do most needed item drives for us, or they’ll say we want to just collect jammies for the month of December, which is really amazing.
then we also, , always need volunteers in our office. We have a, , office on Burnet near 180 3 and it is positively busting at the seams,
[00:25:58] Missy: Hm.
[00:25:59] Kristin: but it means we have for a lot of organizational help and a lot of hope packing opportunities. So, yeah, we have, we have needs for pretty much anything that would want to do.
And we welcome all of those. We are really grateful for all our volunteers and really helped us, you know, get where we are.
[00:26:16] Susanne: And Kristin, you kind of touched on the way that larger corporations can get involved too. So I love the fact that, I mean, , the way I got to know
Carrying Hope hope, um, is through my friend, Erica runs a group called Austin allies, helps families get involved in community service together.
These are like, full-out amazing projects that the whole family can get involved in. Um, so we’ll link to the Austin allies as well, but that’s how I, , got introduced to Carrying Hope, even though I we. We were in the PTA together, but somehow I’d never put two and two together that
she was running this amazing
[00:26:49] Missy: you just don’t.
[00:26:49] Susanne: to say, isn’t that the weirdest thing we always say, you need to actually talk to people in the pickup line about what they do, not just about what your kids are doing that week,
because I mean, how many amazing women are you not recognizing?
mean, what partnerships you could do, how you can
help collaborate, how you could
[00:27:06] Missy: I knew a woman wants for almost a whole school year and didn’t know she was a doctor, you know, like how,
[00:27:13] Susanne: Cause we’re so busy talking about what our kids are doing instead of
[00:27:16] Missy: I knew her, like in a homeroom capacity, you know, like we were just doing stuff for the kids. And so when we talked to it would be like, you buy plates, I’ll get paper, towels, whatever, you know, like it was that.
And then she said something about being on call and I was like, oh, what are you on call for? Like, I mean, we was like, may
[00:27:33] Susanne: She’s like, I am a brain surgeon
[00:27:35] Missy: exactly operate on people.
[00:27:37] Susanne: who respect
[00:27:38] Missy: And you’re also a really good plate
[00:27:40] Susanne: So yeah, that is all of that’s all of our assignments for the few weeks ahead is that if you were at a, just even a holiday party or your kid’s school party or whatever, instead of small talk about what the kids are doing and talk about something cool that you are excited about doing.
In your life. We love our kids, but y’all are interesting too.
[00:28:01] Missy: All right. Whereabouts the, mom’s not about the
[00:28:03] Susanne: Yeah. So that’s my soapbox there, but no. So I love the idea that there’s these hope packs that you can make with your family, but then if someone’s in a corporation or if they have access to like the larger scale things, there are the opportunities to do that.
I know from a hope pack sense and getting these companies to do that. So I’m a foster village, or do you have other, like, there is someone out there that has a company and they want a hundred people to get involved with, like how can a bigger company also help support you besides just
cutting a nice big check.
[00:28:40] Ellen: Um, so we have the similar opportunities where, , we have, uh, a lot of companies through donation drives. So we might create a new wishlist specifically for a company or a, , like a specific QR code that links to certain items, , for them or, , we even have them come and tell us like what they want to do.
Um, you know, this is what we would like to do. Is that okay with you? We’re like, that sounds great. , let’s do this or that, or, however, we also have some companies that actually have served days built in to their year. And so they come every year and, , at one of the resource centers or even both of them and, , do large group projects, um, just depends on the, on the business
[00:29:23] Missy: And what your need is at that time,
right? Maybe it’s yard work, maybe it’s maintenance, maybe it’s sorting, whatever.
[00:29:30] Susanne: Is best. That’s pretty similar for Carrying hope as well, Kristin.
[00:29:34] Kristin: And we can really tailor it. I mean, it’s been really fun. We’ve had a couple of, you know, we have main event this summer, right. When we thought COVID was opening, it was like just in this window where it made sense to do it, but they, they were having a national at , a Hyatt Lost Pines.
[00:29:50] Missy: Yeah,
[00:29:51] Kristin: to do, you know, make like 300. And so we were able to bring out the supplies for that and do this kind of giant event. And of course Hope the Hedgehog was there and she was dancing and it was a lot of fun, um, for them. And it was just really sweet though, too, because you know, , they were coming from different branches of main event from across the state.
And so they brought, you know, giant stuffed animals, like what you would find at main event. They each brought like tons of those that we’ve been able to distribute to the kids. And it was
[00:30:17] Missy: that’s fun.
[00:30:18] Kristin: heartwarming and just exciting to see, you know, what’s what some people are willing and able to.
[00:30:23] Susanne: And
it’s nice that you can make it turnkey for these companies too, that like, okay, you can be the labor for this. We’ll bring the ingredients for the hope packs. And so just the flexibility of all the different things that y’all can do. And now I know both of your organizations, in addition to the work side, there’s also a little party side and that you do the gala’s that are also fundraisers as for people who enjoy to contribute to companies by getting nice and dressed up and having an evening out and having some fun.
Um, I will start with Kristin just because I’m, I’m familiar with the gala and that it’s
coming up. So let’s share some information about Carrying Hope’s gala is coming up this year.
[00:31:07] Kristin: We, um, have it scheduled for March 31st. We had a virtual one last year, which, , I think we made as fun as we can, but we’re really excited to see everybody in person again, this year
[00:31:17] Missy: Yeah.
[00:31:18] Kristin: going to be at Springdale station and, , right now we’re planning for it to be completely outdoors.
And usually typically in the past, we’ve always done it like the weekend of Valentine’s day and called it our fostering love, gala event. But wanted to push it toward late March after snow of it. And just, hopefully we’ll be kind of out of the. For that for an outdoor event. Um, but we’re planning a lot of really fun, exciting speakers and music.
And we have a lot of, , sponsorship opportunities and also underwriting opportunities. If you want to sponsor a light bites or the photo booth or any number of things, we tried to get really creative with it. So, , all that information is carryinghope.org, but we’re just really excited.
We’re just, we’re really, you know, more than anything, just excited to see everybody in person hopefully, and , just enjoy each other. I mean, it’s, it’s really, heartwarming and very moving for me to go to this event and see the faces of these people that literally showed up in a park when we had our first drive in 2016 and they’ve been supporting us ever since then, they watched us grow and grown with us.
Um, so really that’s what I’m looking forward to because that’s why we’ve been able to do it. And it’s been really just an amazing opportunity to see the support that we’ve gotten and to have these people with us the whole time, like Susanne.
[00:32:29] Missy: I think foster village has kind of a similar story. Like
[00:32:32] Kristin: Oh, yeah.
[00:32:33] Missy: we bowled one year, which was so much fun, actually.
It was so
[00:32:39] Ellen: our fancy dresses,
[00:32:41] Missy: Yes.
[00:32:42] Ellen: black tie bowling. That
[00:32:43] Missy: Yeah. That was really fun. Now you have like
a full-on gala sold out every year.
[00:32:49] Ellen: we have a fallen gala. We had one scheduled for March the 13th of 2020. Um,
[00:32:56] Missy: Not a great day to have a game.
[00:32:57] Ellen: not a great day for in-person 350%.
[00:33:01] Missy: That was rough.
[00:33:03] Ellen: we canceled that the morning of which was very traumatizing. but, we, uh, fortunately were able to hold a gala this past So we just had one in October and we were just like Kristin said, oh my gosh, we were just so glad to see everybody and to be able to, thank everyone for growing with us, for sure. , it is to the, the support and the generosity of the community come together at an event like that. , and so we, we were blown away.
, so we are now on to planning the next one. Um, so we have it for sometime at the end of September, we haven’t actually released the date yet. . So we will, , be working hard at that then.
[00:33:48] Susanne: I
[00:33:48] Missy: I want to talk a little bit about I’m pivoting a bit, because we’ve talked a lot about how you can get involved from a financial or hands-on standpoint, but I think it would be really helpful for listeners to hear a little bit about the state of foster care right now. ,
[00:34:04] Kristin: talking about the state of foster care and I know Ellen can speak, they’ve dealt a lot with the CWOP crisis, which Ellen should definitely talk about. Cause it’s, it’s just, um, Staggering, but basically, you know, that the state of Texas, the foster care system is in crisis.
It has been for a long time. There’s a lawsuit against the state for the situation that it’s in. And there’s a record number of children that are without placings that are sleeping in offices, , that are sleeping in hotels. And, you know, when you look at the impact of COVID for us, we kept distributing at the same numbers because it turned out that so many of the, children that we ended up to were CWOP, were children that were sleeping in offices.
We had, um, request to buy cots in Waco because otherwise these kiddos would have been on the floor. We’d been distributing toiletries faster than we can collect them because the kiddos in Austin that are sleeping in offices have to take a van over to the Y so that they can shower because they don’t have those facilities.
So it’s been really sobering. And Ellen, I don’t know if. To that extent right now. Um, but it’s definitely changed what we do. And it’s also kind of accelerated, you know, a next phase for us, which is that in the next year we plan to open an emergency shelter and also offer transitional housing for children that are aging out.
Because when you’re living this, especially as a foster parent, as an adoptive parent and being involved in a nonprofit like this, and you see what’s happening to the kids and no one’s fixing it, you sort of get so angry that you have to do more than what you. And that’s where we’re at. So, um, I’m just really mad and hearing it.
It just seems like it’s, it keeps getting worse and worse. I mean, it’s like a thousand times the number of children in CWOP, , compared to two years ago. So, I mean, Ellen should speak to foster village because they’ve been taking these kiddos in, but basically, you know, when a child’s in an office or a hotel, they have to have around the clock supervision from CPS.
And so even if it’s not a place that’s comfortable for a child, if a caseworker is supervising them, then it’s considered the best, you know, that they can do because there aren’t homes for them or shelters for them.
[00:36:19] Ellen: Yeah. So, mean, Kristin’s right on. It’s definitely, , quite a crisis here in Texas right now. And we have basically a thousand less beds in the state of Texas, a thousand less places to put these children than we did two years ago, before COVID and the it’s, uh, Multifold problem. Um, in terms of it’s, COVID obviously bring down the numbers just because we had to have, to, set kids aside when they come in to, quarantine and things like that.
a lot of the issue is, , lawsuits, , against the state of Texas. So, , that has brought the number of group homes, , the number of, , homes, , facilities down significantly. And so that’s why we have so many less beds, , to place kids in. So, right now, , Well, so during the last year and a half week, we did have these children that are without placement stain and one of our resource centers.
and it was just like she said, it’s just, it’s so hard to watch, , happen. , , but at the same time we realized that we had such a small space with just a few beds that we weren’t even able to, , really address the entire crisis. So we’re with pulled back, okay, what do we need to do? And how do we use our advocacy?
How do we use, our community to, reach more children and more of the crisis? so Kristen, shelter is going to be a huge help. It’s going to be what. And then another thing that we’re doing on our end is, , building on a new resource center that is just to equip with the items that they need, but equipping them with the services that they need.
So support groups, training, , therapies, , we hope to bring in all different kinds of therapists to be able to provide free. hard for families to access these resources. So we want to try and bring all the resources to one
[00:38:22] Missy: Yes
[00:38:22] Ellen: it easy.
[00:38:23] Susanne: Yeah.
[00:38:24] Ellen: our goal is going to be to sustain the foster parents by providing resources, to then ideally more beds in the state of Texas, essentially.
[00:38:34] Missy: at Casa, we
talk a lot about doing, um, not trying to eliminate removals. There are times when removals are needed, but providing resources to these families to help reduce removals. Because a lot of, a lot of these children who are without placement are coming out of places, had the family, had the resource, or even someone to say this resource exists.
They might not be in that position. So it’s this again, this multi-layered multifaceted crisis where removals are happening that maybe we could avoid. So at Casa, we talk a lot about how do we come in and help reunify or get them in a position where they have a home in a bed. and maybe how do we help avoid that in the first place?
So I think it’s something like a resource center where families can come in and learn about what’s out there. you know, families who are trying to be reunifying families. So they’re not in this position again. It’s amazing. Um, but it’s
yeah. Oh, complicated.
[00:39:38] Ellen: are reunified and definitely the goal is. And that’s kids to be reunified on a permanent level. And in order to do that, these families need support. they can’t do it alone. None of us, we can’t parent alone. I can’t do it, without Missy and Missy.
[00:39:55] Kristin: Um,
[00:39:58] Ellen: um, we need to figure out how to, , provide that support to the biological families, to keep them, , supported and going as well. For sure.
[00:40:08] Missy: Yeah. And then adoptive families. There’s a lot, there are a lot of boxes that have to be checked that you guys can speak to even more intelligently, but. Uh, family is in the system on any level. There’s just all these really complicated boxes to check. And Ellen and I have talked about it in relation to cases we’ve been involved with there.
You have to get to therapy, you have to get to meetings with different groups and you have to also hold down a job and you have to get to all of these places and maybe you don’t have a car. so how do you get to all of these places? If the bus takes an extra three or four hours of your day, if you’ve never relied on the bus for transportation, I think that’s opening that it can take two hours to get somewhere that takes somebody with a car 10 minutes.
[00:40:53] Ellen: For sure,
[00:40:53] Missy: so it’s just the suit. There’s just so much need out there. And so I think getting what I was getting at earlier is there are probably some ways we can get involved. Legist legislatively. That’s hard to say at the end of the day, legislatively, To help. And I don’t even really know where to start with that myself, even with everything I’ve learned, like, can we write letters?
Who do we write letters to?
[00:41:15] Susanne: Yeah,
[00:41:16] Ellen: sure. You write them to your representative. Absolutely. , that’s one of the
[00:41:20] Missy: it’s useless.
[00:41:24] Susanne: did. We mentioned we live in Texas.
[00:41:29] Ellen: Um, crystal, um, is really a great advocate and is definitely on the forefront of,
[00:41:37] Missy: Yeah. She is.
[00:41:38] Ellen: the, the people in Texas who are wanting to do things and make changes. And so ideally what we are bringing to the table is stories, from the frontline, families that we know, the people that we know, the CASAs that we know, um, and getting those frontline stories, to, the people who are tasked with making the changes,
[00:42:00] Susanne: Yeah.
[00:42:01] Ellen: working with the judges, um, we’re in
[00:42:03] Missy: Yeah.
[00:42:03] Ellen: contact with the judges on a regular basis, and being involved in, Pilot programs and brainstorming and think tanks and you know, all of those kinds of things.
So the, of the most important things that we can do is share our stories, that we can,
[00:42:20] Missy: Yeah.
[00:42:20] Ellen: them.
[00:42:21] Susanne: And now I’ve Kristen, you touched upon this idea of that aging out and the purpose
Of the Carrying Hope new shelter that, you’re working on. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? And if anybody wants to get involved on that front, , what types of donations are needed?
, any services that are needed, how people can help there as well.
[00:42:41] Kristin: For sure. Yeah. So, there’s various types of shelters and RTCs, so, our first step is to open an emergency shelter. So , we’re going to start small, you know, probably a dozen kiddos and then grow from there. As we figure out what we’re doing. I have six kids that are still, know, doing well in my house.
So I think if we do 10 or 12 with full-time staff, we’ll do, you know, we’ll do okay. Um, but our goal is to grow and my goal really would be if we could, you know, Template it and have these wonderful shelters that we know are done well and then beautifully, across the state because the capacity crisis, unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
And I think the key and something that I feel that I can do and that we can do is carrying hope. Take good care of the kids and do it, you know, incrementally in a way that we make sure it’s being done right. And then expand it from there. So, that’s, the shelter will start small, but it’s going to be, it’s going to be bright and it’s going to bring healing and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that these kids know that they’re loved.
and then ideally, we’re going to grow it out so that, you know, an emergency shelter, you know, really a child’s only supposed to be there for 30 days. They can stay longer. They can end up staying up to a year, depending on their circumstances. But our goal would be to grow it out to cottages. So if a child’s doing well, they can just stay and they can be with us.
And then if they’re aging out that we have. Aging out cottages also where they can stay and, you know, even have a private residence for themselves. So, you know, it’s all, this is all like phase two and three, but the shelter is coming. The shelter will be here in 2022. We’ve got our application 50 page application.
We have had it accepted. So, um, we’re really excited and , it’s really special to us because I think with hope packs, you know, you’re doing something that’s benefiting a child that needs it. , but we have so many of the kids that make hope packs that are like, but I don’t get to meet them.
And I’m not saying we’re gonna, they’re going to come and meet kids at the shelter either. But I think, you know, I think it just gives a new depth to what we do, knowing that we’re able to care for these kiddos in this new way. In addition to the tangible. Idea of a hope pack
[00:44:52] Susanne: Yeah.
[00:44:53] Kristin: um, and there’s just such a need for it.
So we’re just really excited. We will be accepting volunteers once we’re opening. I’m hoping that, you know, it’ll be a late spring open. and then we’ll be looking for volunteers. We’re going to be looking for furniture. We’re going to be looking for, anybody that wants to donate services or labor. So, I mean, anyone that’s interested in helping, you know, with the actual physical home and then also, you know, in terms of once the kiddos are in, there would be so welcome.
And we’re just really excited. We’re grateful to be able to do this. We’re grateful to the
[00:45:21] Missy: Yeah,
[00:45:22] Kristin: happen. And it’s been a long road. We ran into some deed restrictions and some fun
[00:45:27] Missy: I’m sure.
[00:45:28] Kristin: in these situations, but we have the light at the end of the tunnel now, and we’re ready and we’re just really excited.
[00:45:34] Susanne: Yeah. Now for people with, since we’re getting close to the end here for people who want to get continuing information, learn more about you can, I know you’ve got your award-winning newsletter.
[00:45:47] Kristin: Yes, sign up. It is the best.
[00:45:50] Susanne: award myself, uh, but I know there’s a newsletter y’all can sign up for, but do you want to share your website and social handles and the best place to find you?
[00:45:59] Kristin: Yes, we are. Um, carryinghope.org and, , Facebook it’s at Carrying Hope Austin, have an at Carrying Hope Houston. Um, and then on Instagram, we’re at Carrying hope.
[00:46:10] Susanne: And what about for foster village? What’s the best place for people to reach out and get more information?
[00:46:15] Ellen: Sure. Our website is foster village, austin.org, and we are foster village Austin on Instagram and Facebook as well. And then we have various other affiliate locations, but, , our foster village Inc website, takes you to all those different
locations as well. and, just to touch back on one thing that if you have those children who say, I want to meet the kiddo that I’m packing this tote pack for, a great way to volunteer is respite.
And that basically means babysitting. And there’s another wonderful organization called fostering hope Austin, and they have a website that can lead you down a babysitting, certification process. so that would be a way to, give a foster parent a break and bring a child into your home for a weekend or whatever.
And, um, your kids experience, the joy of making a new friends as well.
[00:47:11] Susanne: I
had never even heard of that. What an interesting opportunity to be able to do that. And,
[00:47:16] Missy: that’s my next campaign at my house is to be rescued.
[00:47:20] Susanne: that’s
[00:47:20] Missy: You really like everybody in the home has to be on board.
Um, so that’s my hard push
[00:47:27] Kristin: needed and such a blessing
[00:47:29] Missy: Yeah.
[00:47:30] Kristin: point, Ellen. Oh my gosh.
[00:47:32] Susanne: Yeah. And you know, and I, we haven’t even talked about it because we’re trying to just kind of baby step people into things that they can do. But I mean, becoming a foster parent, I mean, obviously huge need, um, you’re seeing two foster parents. Who’ve had incredible experiences touch their hearts, touch their lives, touch their families.
So, we’ll put some links in the show notes, just in the interest in time for people who want to get more information we’ll get some of your favorite links and resources for people who actually do want to take that next step and learn a little bit more about what it would be to be a foster parent, what that looks like and what that involves.
So we’ll put those in the show notes for people who want to dive into that research a little bit more as well. All right. So
w w we got a little bit of a late start with our technical difficulties. Do you have time still for like a couple of minutes for look, listen and learn. . You Good
[00:48:22] Missy: good sports.
[00:48:23] Susanne: Yay. I know our poor guests, even without technical difficulties, we usually are like, got five more minutes.
[00:48:32] Missy: I know.
[00:48:34] Susanne: So yeah, our look, listen learns is the time when we usually talk about either some things that we’ve been watching or some new songs we’ve been listening to new podcasts some of our favorite exciting, , beauty products. But we thought in the spirit, uh, foster care and foster families that could focus our look lists and learns on some of the things either that we’ve learned around volunteering in this area, or just even some of the favorite products, most needed products, those types of things.
Um, so yeah, who wants to kick it off? Missy? Do you want to go first or, oh way,
we got a hand raise and Ellen’s ready. Okay.
[00:49:11] Missy: Cause I may. And I’m a, like if Ellen and Kristen have really great things, like I may not go tonight. Cause I feel like they may have better things than I do, but let’s see. Let’s see what you
[00:49:22] Susanne: It’s not a contest.
[00:49:25] Ellen: I only have, I only have one thing.
[00:49:27] Susanne: All right.
[00:49:27] Ellen: is the show Maid on? Is it on Netflix? I think
[00:49:32] Susanne: Oh
[00:49:33] Missy: so. I haven’t watched it yet. It’s on my long list of to watch, but
[00:49:38] Ellen: So, , it is a very good, , show that enlightened you to what reality really can be like the families that we serve, out there. So like what we were talking about, the catch 22. So, as a very good example of that.
can’t get a job. If you don’t have childcare, you can’t get childcare. If you don’t have. Um, all of those kinds of things you can’t get to work if you don’t have a car, can’t have
[00:50:04] Missy: Yeah. You can’t get a car if you can’t pay for a car.
[00:50:07] Ellen: Right. So, it’s been a great example, uh, what life really looks like.
[00:50:16] Missy: Now, have you watched it with your girls or is it
[00:50:20] Ellen: I think it’s older.
[00:50:21] Missy: Okay.
[00:50:23] Susanne: Yeah,
[00:50:26] Ellen: maybe for, I mean, I probably could with my older,
[00:50:29] Missy: Yeah.
[00:50:30] Ellen: but, I don’t know the things that we’re watching right now. I probably could do it, but.
[00:50:35] Missy: Right. I know when I think about what I do, why it’s just one it’s so real,
[00:50:40] Susanne: I
know isn’t that the weirdest thing like, oh, they can like cut each other in half with lightsabers, but when it’s like real life, like yeah, this lady , she has to carry a vacuum with her on the ferry because she doesn’t have the car to be able to get it to her cleaning job. Like,
I mean, you’re like, oh, I don’t want my kids to have to see that.
But like, no, that’s like,
that’s real life for so many people. And I think that’s important to really drive home that decisions that cause God, well, she makes some really rough decisions in that show. I’m like, you don’t get in someone else’s hot tub bet. But, but it also, I just heard it. I just heard a saying the other day, it’s like, it’s not.
People make good choices is that they have good choices. And I
think, and not everybody I’m talking about people in our situation, people with a lot of privilege in their lives who think that, oh, I’ve got to where I am because I’ve made such good choices. It’s like, no, I had a lot of pretty good choices to start with.
uh, and knowing that not everybody has that, um, I think made, made really drove that home for me as far as like, what would I do? I do not know. not know.
[00:51:48] Ellen: And how just little mistakes can turn into the spiral all the way down and, you know, and whereas I could’ve made a large mistake and got out of it easy.
[00:52:02] Susanne: Yeah.
And the issue of dealing with the home that you have been raised in the support that you have from. Parents or don’t have, , from parents and what that impact that has once you have children a,
your own. And that’s, uh, also a real privilege.
So yeah. Very interesting. Yes. I do encourage people to watch that too.
[00:52:22] Missy: yeah.
[00:52:23] Susanne: What about you, Kristen?
[00:52:25] Kristin: Um, , I’d like to shout out a local company called Kay’s hair extensions. She makes incredible bonnets that we actually include in our hope packs for, , our various kiddos with textured hair. And, , she’s just a really amazing woman who, donated some of them and we’d been working with her and I just her.
[00:52:44] Missy: That’s awesome.
[00:52:45] Kristin: for her business and for our kiddos. and I just, I just love her. So I wanted to shout her out. And then I also just kind of, maybe doesn’t necessarily completely fall under, but the learn component and under what y’all were just talking about to, you know, about what’s appropriate and what’s not, I would just urge parents.
Um, we get a lot of parents asking us. know, like, oh, but I’m in foster care. That’s, that’s kind of heavy to talk about with kids. Like how do I explain that? What do I say? And, um, I mean, for me, you know, my experience at a foster home when I was 12 changed the course of my life. Right. And like became my dream to do this and I don’t really need it.
It’s, it doesn’t seem like a dream every day, to do this as a privileges. And it’s an honor that I am grateful for every day. Um, but I think I would just ask parents, you know, in the learn component, don’t be afraid to talk to your, your kiddos. And it’s not that hard to explain, you know what I mean?
You can say are some kids that aren’t able to live safely with their mom and dad right now, and they need to go somewhere else and that’s to foster home. And I would also just encourage, my family’s a transracially adoptive family and. We’ve seen a lot of racism too. And you know, you also hear people saying, but five, too young to talk about race with my child.
Six is too young to talk about race with my child. Well guess what? five-year-old different times has been told her hair looks like poop by your son and I emailed you about it and I called you about it and you didn’t return my call and email, you know? And I think that people don’t understand that now is the exact time to do it.
And you can do it in a way that’s age appropriate, and you can do it in a way that makes sense. But our kiddos that are of color are dealing with this burden every day. And it’s everyone’s responsibility to have these discussions and to teach your children right and wrong. And, I would just welcome people to open up the conversation.
There are so many great books. There are so many wonderful , resources online. , And , I just really would say, talk about the hard stuff, like in an age appropriate way. I would talk about the hard stuff, because if you don’t talk about it now, when are you going to talk about it? And what if you never talk about it?
[00:54:57] Susanne: Yeah. I’m so
glad you brought that up.
And that kind of ties into one of my learns and this ties into, uh, we’re not specifically talking about the LGBTQ kiddos now, although they are a disproportionate number of homeless kids because they tend to get kicked out of their house when they do not have a supportive family.
Along those lines. I’m very involved with, , social and emotional learning and curriculum in schools. It’s interesting. The idea of you’ll hear it called sex ed. Um, but it’s
not sex. Ed is some of these lessons that Kristin’s talking about. Like I’m proud of myself and I, I respect others based on the color of their skin.
They have different hair or they have whatever. And for some reason, just because it covers the idea of people have different family structures in the sense that they might have two dads or two moms, all of a sudden it’s called sex ed. And like, no, it’s just be, it it’s just be a good human ed. But anyway, so I do have a, so I have a soap box about that,
but my other, my other soap box related to this is that many schools, um, Trying to be more sensitive around the language because there are such diverse family structures.
So instead of form saying, you know, the mom and the dad, maybe guardian one, guardian two, or just the language around, you know, a trusted adult versus assuming that it’s a parent,
whatever the case may be or your guardian, um, there are groups of people trying to twist this idea into trying to take away power from the families or they will try to tie it to, , trying to bring the LGBTQ lifestyle.
And by saying, oh, well we can’t call them parents anymore because it’s a dad and a dad it’s like, not necessarily, it might be an aunt. It might be a grandparent. It might be a foster parent. There are
[00:56:51] Missy: Some guardians come in all shapes and sizes.
[00:56:54] Susanne: I just, I just want to put that on people’s radars because we’ve been seeing it in Austin.
It’s going to be more and more places. People are trying to you’ll hear it. SEL social, emotional learning, people are coming and attacking it because it’s trying to basically normalize the fact that we’re all normal and, and that makes some people uncomfortable. , you know, parents of five-year-olds who would rather have their kid tell someone their hair looks like poop than to have a conversation with them about why they shouldn’t do that.
I mean, it just boggles my brain. So when you hear that and you’re going to hear people probably talking about how social emotional learning is trying to take away the power from the parents. And it’s trying to like tell your kids to go talk to somebody else. No, it’s just meaning that not all kids have their parents and they do need a trusted adult and they need the language around that.
Um, so if you see some forms that say guardian one, guardian to. It’s not someone trying to cram an LGBTQ agenda down the school district. It just is saying that.
I mean, sorry. I, I, told you it’s tipsy ellipsis,
[00:58:03] Missy: I know I’m going to,
[00:58:06] Susanne: so
[00:58:07] Ellen: not, it’s not just like sex ed and the older kids and things like that. It’s also, you know, the kiddos that are in and kindergarten, where they’re still doing family trees, where you have to fill in the mom and the dad, and it’s, there’s no room in there for other options and
[00:58:27] Missy: Just so heartbreaking.
[00:58:29] Ellen: we’ll make it so that that’s not the case, right.
From the beginning of.
[00:58:33] Susanne: Yeah. And
those types of ideas and those types of lessons around that, again, they fall under this social, emotional learning umbrella. Unfortunately, some of them are also labeled as sex ed because the different tree, you know, in addition to an aunt, uncle foster parent might be. Same-sex parents.
Um, but just, I just want people to be aware of that because there are so many people who will try to scare you away from this because they are too scared themselves for some reason, to have these important conversations in their families. And they just don’t want their kids to, I guess, hear about being nice and understanding to
but anyway, but also I want to just, I’m going to keep going and going. Yeah. One of the things that Kristen was talking about as far as there is a higher representation of kids of color in the foster care system.
But a lot of the products I think that are being donated are being donated by nice white. Beds
that don’t necessarily know
what products are needed for textured hair or that
there’s, you know, different Combs or brushes. And so, um, along those same lines, especially with the hope packs, , one of the great things that people, the kids get, sometimes their first book that they’ve ever had of their own are parts of these.
So just encourage people to go like check out the Instagram account. We need diverse books.
if you are looking at donating to a foster village or a Carrying hope, if you’re doing these books, you know, maybe kind of think about who is truly going to be that recipient. It may not be a mirror image of what your family looks like, and they may have different needs as far as just, uh, the products that they use in their hair, to the kind of books and wanting to be able to see themselves in those books.
So I would say that we’d need dessert, uh, dessert books. I’m a little hungry
first books. We also need
[01:00:21] Missy: take a desert book.
[01:00:23] Susanne: I know, but, and, and now these do not fall into the, uh, diverse books, but they do fall into super cute books. It’s I’m doing a little shout out for my friend, Sarah Maizes. oh, dang it. My camera’s not working.
She’s got these cute on the way to the bath on the way to school and on the way to bed books do.
And I know at least three quarters
of us are
writers. I think we can appreciate my, the reason I’m shouting out those books is because my friend, Sarah, um, they were originally published almost a decade ago.
Um, and then her editor within that group left the company. And so she no longer had a champion and they just kind of got rid of the books. Like you couldn’t even find them. And so the idea of women supporting women and, , just being brave to take chances, she, she bought the rights back to her books.
So that they can see the light of day again and all the hard
work and stuff that she put into them. So she’s just kind of scrapping along being like, here’s my books back, what do I do with them? So, and they’re
so sweet and they’re really cute. And the illustration, since I’ve got a daughter who is an illustrator, who I would be heartbroken, if some publisher just decided to leave their hard work on the floor for a decade.
Um, so they’re just seeing their light a day again. So again, if it, they, they are not necessarily the diverse, uh, voices that we are talking about from the, we need diverse books, but they supporting another, a working mom who, um, is doing her thing. And we just like to support other moms and their businesses.
So I’d given her a
little shout out to.
[01:01:56] Missy: Awesome.
[01:01:57] Ellen: And just so that people know, like we get so excited when we received those types of donated items. I had a donation drive not long ago from, a larger company and they did it on their own and they their own wishlist basically within. And I, it got all was just shipped to us and I opened up the boxes it was dolls of all different colors.
[01:02:20] Missy: Um,
[01:02:21] Ellen: book had a different color on the book, the face. And I just was like, my gosh.
[01:02:28] Susanne: Yeah.
[01:02:29] Ellen: it is, it is, um, it’s rare. And we get very excited when we see those items.
[01:02:35] Susanne: Yes.
[01:02:36] Missy: I would like to talk for one minute about seeing yourself represented. And it is a lot, a lot of the donors are nice white people. And so in my, my look, listen, learn, I kind of had a, like one of those flutters when Ellen was talking. Cause I’m like, look, let’s learn ties to her. And certainly, but I think it’s important because we don’t often realize how different experiences are for other people, um, that you start to educate yourself about what’s out there and the difference between something being different and something being dangerous.
So just because somebody is, life is different. Doesn’t mean it’s dangerous. Uh, And so I would like to recommend the Casa podcast, the Casa of Texas podcast has many episodes and we’ll link to it so you can easily find it. But many episodes that talk about that just because what somebody is going, their lived circumstances look so differently from yours.
And we talk about like, if you go into a house and there’s a hole in the floor, that doesn’t mean the parents are bad. That means they can’t fix the hole in the floor. Poverty does not equal bad parenting.
[01:03:47] Susanne: Yeah.
[01:03:48] Missy: So I really encourage people to go listen to that podcast and then follow all the bunny trails that come from it, the amazing like authors and speakers in their books and Ted talks and everything that comes from it that you can really educate yourself.
And one of my passions is learning about ACEs or adverse childhood experiences. And every one of us has an ACE score and it’s everything from, you know, did you grow up in a stable two parent home, or did you experience divorce? Did you grow up in a home that did not look like the traditional American family in some way?
Did you grow up in a home where there was, um, drug or alcohol abuse? Were you abused where you, where you food scarce, whatever it was, it adds to your score. And every American has something. every person in the world has some thing. but many people have six or more, which is, you know, a huge number of ACEs and then understanding that.
We can meet people where they are and help them recover from that. And that’s part of the foster care community is reaching out to those people. So, um, I’ll put that podcast in there.
[01:04:55] Ellen: Have y’all seen that little meme of the little Nettie holding his trauma on his back.
[01:05:00] Susanne: No.
[01:05:00] Ellen: that
I don’t, I don’t know what it came from. I just saw it on social media, but he’s, he’s carrying his bag full of trauma. And then on top of that, he gets put a bag of, job stress. And then on top of that, a bag of a pandemic.
And on top of that, a bag of, um, I don’t know, car, car wreck or something, um, or lost transportation or something like that. And then there’s a little just like bumps in the road and he trips over it and falls and is on the ground. And somebody walks over and it’s like, you’re you’re ever doing. Like
that’s no big deal. That was just a little bump there. You just fell. And it was just so perfect when I saw that I was like, yes, where the trauma is huge. And I think we all need to be more educated on, trauma for these kids and for all of us as adults as well.
[01:05:54] Missy: Great. Everyone’s carrying, you know, I learned about generational trauma in the last couple of years. Your ancestors trauma is still wired in your brain. Uh, and so we have this amazing gift to learn about it, understand it and help future generations. But if we put our head in the sand and we don’t want to talk about emotional learning, and we don’t want to talk about our own trauma or whatever the case may be, well, then we’re not going to make any changes.
So we have this incredible opportunity at this moment in time. And we talk about the pandemic a lot on the podcast, but it’s a real eye opener. We experienced a collective trauma, or at least most of us, most of us acknowledge it that we experienced this collective drama. And people were like, oh yeah, stuff is hard when you’re dealing with trauma.
Everyday stuff is hard when the whole world is topsy-turvy. We’ll imagine that’s, that’s the case for a lot of people. Well, before the pandemic.
[01:06:50] Susanne: Yeah. Uh, well, this is such an important discussion. I feel like we could go on and on and we’ve already taken so much
[01:06:55] Missy: yeah, I can talk about it all night.
[01:06:56] Susanne: I know we do. Somehow we manage to sprinkle it into just even the most random episodes and be like, you know what, but obviously a foster care is a very near and dear topic to all of us.
Um, mine very much from a volunteer standpoint, years from actually being foster parents and seeing on the front line, what, what this looks like and what the process is. And we’re so grateful to you and everyone like you and your organizations that are helping these kids and the families that take care of them on a daily basis.
I mean, I. I get terrified thinking like what, what would happen if organizations like yours? Weren’t there. I just, I don’t even want to think about it. So I’m just so grateful that you are there and you’re helping these people. I mean, the fact that even Kristin, in this situation of knowing. All the things that are involved in foster care is still needed the benefit of foster village to be able to bring the bed in a situation.
I mean, you
just, as prepared as you are, you can not be as prepared. I mean, you get nine months to have a baby. You get like what 10 minutes notice sometimes to have this new kid in your house. And so, I mean, like, like we’re saying the hope packs helped that family and the kid have a nice, graceful entrance and give a little hope to them during those first 24 to 48 hours.
There’s so much that foster village can do to help them support those foster parents after that fact, and then other organizations, including and hope that’s going to be able to help kind of with the aging out community. So there’s so many different ways, depending on what. What level of fostering or helping care for this community?
What, what speaks to your heart? Um, there’s so many different ways that you can help support. We’ll put lots of links, , in the show notes, we’ll put the foster village and Carryinghope links. Um, yeah. There’s so many different opportunities that, you know, if you can just drive a car once a month to go drop something off every little bit helps. All
[01:09:02] Missy: It’s amazing. Oh, thank you all for being here.
[01:09:05] Ellen: Thank you all for having us and for, bringing it to everyone’s attention a little more. there’s a long way.
[01:09:12] Susanne: Yes.
[01:09:14] Missy: Yes. And everybody’s
really eager to give right now.
[01:09:17] Kristin: either both of you do.
[01:09:18] Missy: Oh, thanks.
[01:09:19] Susanne: Thank you. Yes. And just to our bigger minor, what we want to drive home here is that I think everybody thinks about the like giveaways and the gift trees and all that type of thing around the holidays. But I mean, the need is really 365 days a year
for organizations that support foster kids.
Okay. We literally could just go on this forever. Okay.
[01:09:39] Missy: Yes. It’s important. It’s also important. So we’ll try to find
[01:09:42] Susanne: know,
[01:09:43] Missy: so that you can start to understand the
[01:09:44] Kristin: Yeah.
[01:09:46] Susanne: Speaking of all of the kids in your house, I know that they were probably looking for you or would you like
us to just keep going? Is this a nice excuse to hide out?
[01:09:56] Kristin: Excuse to lock the door for a little while and the dogs out there. It’s fine
[01:10:00] Missy: I can hear the TV, like no one wants me to come out and tell them to turn the TV off and go to bed.
[01:10:05] Susanne: Okay. So just stay in your room for like another hour and just come
out later and be like, oh, Susanne, I, Missy just would not
[01:10:12] Missy: be quiet.
[01:10:13] Kristin: forever.
[01:10:16] Ellen: My husband would totally believe that would be no problem
[01:10:19] Susanne: That’s true.
Our episode with him went for an hour and a half. So yeah.
[01:10:23] Missy: Yeah.
[01:10:26] Susanne: Uh, well again, thank you so much for everything you do in the community and for your generosity of time
tonight. Um, we’ve we really wanted to get this message out, both for the
holiday needs, but also kicking into the new year. Um, so people who I think there’s going to be some new year’s resolutions, hopefully around generosity and giving.
And I think that this could be a really nice place to start for people. So
[01:10:49] Missy: I agree.
[01:10:50] Susanne: we’ll have all those links in the show notes for people who want to click over and see, see what’s a good fit for them.
[01:10:55] Missy: Thank y’all so much
[01:10:57] Kristin: you.