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Office Moms and Dads is a group working to help comfort foster kids throughout the state of Washington during some of the most difficult moments of their lives. It’s a grassroots program that started in 2013 in Vancouver with the idea that adult volunteers would spend time with kids when they are first removed from their homes and brought into foster care. The volunteers entertain the children until the social worker can find a safe home for the child.
“Office Moms and Dads can then focus on them; can provide them comfort during what is probably a very frightening time, and at the same time it frees up social workers to be able to do their job of being able to find these kids a foster home placement,” Union Gospel Mission’s Foster Care Support Specialist Mandy Neill said.
Time is crucial for social workers in the moments after a child is taken from a home, so it is important that they have all their attention on finding the child a safe place. Often, the child has to sit in their cubicle as they make calls.
“They’re usually busy calling multiple people, usually our placement desk, speaking with relatives that have been found for that child, seeing if that might be a suitable location for them as well,” DSHS’ Jessica Hatch said. “What that results in is a child sitting in the office for possibly an extended amount of time while we look for a home for that child.”
Since the program launched in 2013 it has continued to grow, and now, with help from organizations like Union Gospel Mission, they’ve been able to add five new office locations in King and Snohomish Counties.
Christy Robertson is one of the program volunteers.
“I’m just wanting to help children to have the best life that they can have and support families so that they can be the best family that they can have, but meeting the needs of children is so important, and that’s why I want to volunteer,” Robertson said. “Our job is just to love them, and to provide for them, and play with them, and to make this time as stress-free as it can be.”
“Children didn’t choose this, this is not something that happened to them at any fault of their own, and yet they find themselves in this time of need, and that’s where we can kind of come in and make it a little less stressful,” fellow volunteer Jennifer Keogh said.
If you are interested in volunteering, click here for more information.