Foster Love Bell County celebrated the grand opening of their Foster Love House on Friday, Feb. 22. FLBC works to serve children who are in the foster care system in the Bell County area. Candace Cartwright founded the organization in February 2016.
“I founded it [Foster Love] about three years ago,” Cartwright said. “I didn’t have a big vision or anything like this [the house] in mind, but it started out as a group on Facebook after my husband and I adopted from foster care.”
The organization realized their need for a house facility when they discovered that children without a foster family assignment did not have a place to stay. FLBC moved into the house on Dec. 1,2018, and officially openedthe house on Feb. 22, 2019. The house provides several services for individuals involved in the foster program in Bell County.
“We are kind of like a multi-resource center,” Cart- wright said. “We are open for conferences—we have two conference rooms that are available for case workers to use. Throughout the course of a case, there are a lot of conferences that have to take place and they have their unit meetings here.”
The house also has a kitchen, laundry room, playroom, supply closet and two bedrooms for children and other individuals involved in the foster program.
“One of the main reasons we opened the house was for the bathrooms,” Cartwrightsaid. “The Temple office doesnot have a shower facility and so the kids come in here needing to be cleaned.”
The search for the Foster Love House began as a quest to find an office space for members of FLBC to use.
“We were initially looking for an office space,”Cartwright said. “Over time, knowing what was going on in the CPS (Child ProtectiveServices) offices and that kids often come into care needing either a shower or a meal or a snack or supplies changed that. Often times they sit in an office for hours waiting for a placement with really nothing to do in an office-type setting, which is why the playrooms are there. Unfortunately, that wait does transfer overnight, and we knew that instead of sleeping on an office floor, a bedroom would be better in a home-like setting.”
The Foster Love Bell County mission statement is to “raise awareness and mobilize the community to care for those in the child welfare system.” They accomplish this goal by providing a safe place for children in the foster system and engaging the community in helping the children in need. UMHB students are getting involved in helping at the Foster Love House in various ways.
“We are so excited aboutthis location,” Cartwright said. “We are surrounded by so much young energy and willing hands. So far, we have had people come do yard work and cleaning. We always need donations for our Love Closet. Over time as we add more projects and programs as we go along I think there will be future ways for students to get involved as we go along.”
To learn more about the Foster Love Bell County program and how you can help with the Foster Love House, visit the Foster Love Bell County Facebook page.