By Don Lowe
As FosterAdoptConnect (FAC) strives to make a positive impact for as many families as possible, events such as the upcoming inaugural Journey Home A Day in the Life of Foster Care and a mid-summer Sip & Swing fundraiser are vital for this worthwhile organization.
FAC Joplin Branch Director Tom Furrh says the Journey Home program “is a bus tour highlighting local child-serving non-profits and their roles supporting and advocating for foster and adoptive children and the families supporting them.
“It’s designed to leave a lasting impact on participants as they get a glimpse inside the processes that children experience during removal, temporary placement, forensic interviews, court proceedings and the long-term outcomes of children that live through traumatic life-altering events.
“Our goal is for the community to come away with a better understanding of the niche services each of these organizations provide, and which services FAC provides that differ from Children’s Haven, Children’s Center and Children’s Division, as well as the role they serve and why the community must support all these necessary organizations.”
Regarding the Sip & Swing fundraiser slated to take place later in the summer, July 22, at Just A Taste in Webb City, Furrh says, “As a branch, our goal is to raise approximately five percent of our annual budget. Events like this are vital to meeting our goal.
“Our fundraising events serve to meet a financial need. But our goal is to also bring engaging and innovative events to Joplin that are fun and ultimately better our community at large. This will be our largest fundraiser of the year.
“FAC exists to meet immediate needs of families experiencing or recovering from crisis. We create programming based on an unmet need.
“Think advocacy in rooms where no other advocates will tread, such as financial assistance based on needs rather than an income qualifier and support no matter how many times our clients fail or fall out of contact and re-engage after six weeks. We still serve them with compassion and urgency.
“Our staff is dedicated to serving each client with excellent care at the same level they would for their own sibling or child.
“Each program works to identify and meet urgent needs regarding adequate housing, employment, financial and health needs. Once a family feels they’ve reached stability, we begin focusing on areas that require advocacy, educational, vocational or legal needs.”
Having FAC as a resource in Joplin is a big deal, and Furrh states, “This is an innovative organization focused on identifying ‘gaps’ to fill and serving underserved populations. Each of our programs utilize person-first principles, meeting our clients where they are and walking alongside them toward resolution or a bettering of their circumstances.
“We offer services not available from any other organization locally without cost or judgement. And we work to empower and improve the lives of every individual that we serve.”
Furrh is thrilled to be involved with this organization. “I’m beyond proud of the services FAC provides Joplin and surrounding areas and the quality our team delivers to our children and families. I’m honored to be in position to serve children and families in ways that meet needs under the surface.
“We identify and eradicate problems not met with tangible items or basic case management. We’ll roll up our sleeves and serve a family by cleaning and cooking with them, helping them learn better ways to live alongside their children and partners, identifying goals and working toward them, and working with our clients so they recognize their intrinsic values as humans.”
FosterAdoptConnect Fast Facts
Address: 1802 W. 32nd Street, Suites F & G, Joplin, MO 64804
Phone Number: 417.744.9728
Email address: [email protected]
Mission: Serving abused and neglected children and the families caring for them.
How It All Began: In 1998, a group of dedicated foster parents recognized a need for stronger support, training and companionship as they pursued the difficult and rewarding work of parenting children in foster care. As more families were drawn to the support and advocacy offered by the group, it quickly matured into FosterAdoptConnect (formerly Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association), which was incorporated in 200 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit social service organization. NOTE: At its core, FosterAdoptConnect maintains an “in the trenches with you” approach to serving kids and families. FAC opened the Joplin Branch in 2022 and today has 11 branches across Missouri and Kansas with additional branches in Pittsburg, Kansas, and Branson, Missouri, slated to open in 2023. The Joplin area was served from the Springfield location from 2014 through 2020.
Structure: FAC is headquartered in Independence, Missouri. CEO Lori Ross casts the organization’s vision of service, while COO Jennifer Johnson leads the presidents of programs and operations. Each branch has an appropriate mix of program staff and leadership, along with a development element focused on community relations and fundraising a percentage of their budget.
By the Numbers: FAC Joplin served just over 150 families in 2022 and are working to serve more than 200 in 2023. Across the entire organization, they serve more than 800 families through their clothing closet each month and more than 1,000 families across the other 12 programs each month in Missouri and Kansas.
See more photos in the May 2023 print edition or on the digital edition