National Foster Parent Association
The Southern Mississippi Foster Parent Association (SMFPA) created its Family Resource Center in Moss Point, Mississippi-located between Gulfport and Biloxi-to provide foster families with donated items to help them better care for their children. Items handed out by the Center include clothing, household goods, cribs, and car seats. When Hurricane Katrina hit the state, the Center wound up becoming more of a necessity than ever. It became a rock amid the storm.
Though the Center was damaged by the massive storm and then looted, SMFPA members went into the building and made it a distribution center for much needed supplies for families, such as diapers, hygiene products, and clothing during the initial chaotic days of recovery.
SMFPA's Resource Center has since been condemned, but grant funding from CWLA's Katrina Kids Fund will help revive it once more. In April, CWLA awarded $43,400 to the National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) to oversee the Family Resource Center's restoration-SMFPA is an affiliate member of NFPA. The money will cover one year's rent for a new center, new equipment and furnishings, support group training, and administrative and operating costs.
SMFPA plans to reopen the Center in August 2006. In addition to once again providing extra resources for foster families in the area, the Center will also resume training classes for families whose foster parent licenses are due to expire.
"As families move back into the area, either into repaired houses, or into FEMA-supplied trailers while repairs are underway, their need for the kind of support provided by the SMFPA and its resources is even more critical," NFPA wrote in its grant application. "This grant will provide them the seed money to get back on their feet so they will be able to continue to operate as a support for families…This association has been very resourceful in the past, and with a little hand up, they can be again."
NFPA's hope is for SMFPA's Family Resource Center to become a model for similar centers in other states and, so far, that plan is on track. Southeastern Louisiana will become the next recipient of such a center, thanks to a second CWLA Katrina Kids Fund grant to NFPA.
Similar to the Mississippi project, a CWLA grant to NFPA totaling $42,300 will fund one-year's rent, equipment and furnishing, training, and administrative and operating costs for a center in Metairie, Louisiana. NFPA will work with the Southeast Foster and Adoptive Parents' Association (SFAPA) to establish the center to serve the more than 100 foster families in the area. SFAPA is based in a six-parish region, including New Orleans.
"This is a support group that is anxious to grow, and the members are excited about the opportunity to develop a resource center to meet the needs of families," NFPA's grant application states. "Foster parent support groups are a well-recognized means for these families to help each other in many ways…This is true throughout the country, but it is especially true in this region where so many have lost so much. There are simply not enough financial resources to meet the need."
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