TOPEKA, Kan. – Kids living in foster care often live through traumatic experiences when separated from their families.
KVC Kansas, a nonprofit organization serving 30,000 children and adults, knows in order for children to grow and develop, healthy and normal experiences are vital.
Thanks to a new partnership between KVC and the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, and funding from anonymous donors, 150 foster care families will be able to give children in their care the opportunity to play, grow and develop skills.
KCDC and KVC announced Thursday morning the foster family initiative, which gives 150 unlimited discovery center memberships to KVC families, sensory kits for children, four, half-day summer camps and a live concert.
Linda Bass, KVC president, said the partnership means the world to the organization. There are more than 600 children in Shawnee County living separately from their biological families and 300 foster care families who care for those children.
“This partnership offers such a wonderful opportunity for children to come to a beautiful facility, explore, play,” Bass said. “We know that children learn, grow and develop fast through play. That’s how they communicate. That’s how they engage with their loved ones and especially children who come from difficult places need lots of opportunities to play and have normal, healthy childhood experiences.
“This partnership will offer a variety of ways for them to do that.”
During the half-day camps, children will have the chance to play, interact with other children and explore STEAM concepts.
Dene Mosier, CEO and president of KCDC, said the sensory kits include toys that allow children to engage, such as fidget toys and play putty.
“It gives an outlet for some of those emotions that are taking place to be released in a physical sense that’s safe for that child, that’s safe for whatever environment that child may be in,” Mosier said.
After KCDC identified foster care children as a population it wanted to serve, the organization worked with KVC to identify what the children’s greatest needs are, what stressful factors they face and how KCDC could help.
“To be able to support families that are serving children in this way is really critical and we just feel so fortunate that we have this opportunity and that we have funders who also share our vision of making it possible for everyone,” Mosier said.
Bass said KCDC offers children a safe environment to explore, which is critical as many foster care youths might have come from a home that wasn’t a consistent and safe experience.
“Many of them, depending on the family situation they might have come from, may have just lacked access to the resources in their community, the family might have been able to get here or to afford, or may not have even known about (KCDC),” Bass said. “So for many of these children, this may be their first experience in a facility like this and we know for a lot of kids when they go to a new location, even if it’s a park, there’s a lot of places that they can and can’t go.
“When children walk in here, everything is a yes. They can go anywhere in here and be safe. For the caregivers of those children, it’s wonderful peace of mind to know that they can take a seat and know that their child is exploring and their child is safe.”