Imagine being taken from everything you ever knew, your home, your stuff, your family. To not know the people you are with or where you're going. That would be so hard for anyone of us, but imagine now that this person is just a little child. They don't even know the questions to ask or who to trust. When children are removed from their home it is always out of concern for their safety and well being. Often, they are brought to the Children’s Division Office to await placement into an appropriate foster home. They could be waiting for a few hours or even overnight, sometimes even longer. These children often have nothing with them. They are scared, hungry, and often wearing dirty clothes. This can be a difficult time for the kids, but also for the case workers who are trying to do paperwork, make sure the kids are taken care of, and frantically calling foster homes hoping to find a loving family to place the children with. Their job is often interrupted needing to provide them a meal, tend to their needs, and to entertain them. There’s not a whole lot the children can do in an office except for sit at a desk or draw on a piece of paper and they have to be really quiet so the case workers can continue working on their responsibilities. I worked for Children's Division from 2012 to 2021 and I experienced this first hand. Many times the kids waiting in our offices would hear our calls to foster families as they waited. They understood the no's we were receiving. I can't express to you the heartbreak of children who feel unwanted. With emotions elevated, the child arrives at their new foster home feeling anxious, angry and afraid.
In March of 2023 I approached the local children’s division office and asked a question, “what percentage of kids that come in to foster care spend time at the Children's Division office?” After thinking about it for a minute they replied “about 75% of kids spent time at our office.” So I presented the idea of an alternative place that kids could go where they didn’t have to wait at the office. They said that they would love that, and would absolutely use a place like that if it existed. At that moment, Sparrow House was born.
Our goal is to focus on the time between when the children come into foster care until they find placement. Sparrow House provides an alternative space where these kids are brought to wait - in a safe home with friendly caregivers and loving volunteers - instead of the Children's Division office. Sparrow House allows children to receive the comfort and care they need while Children’s Division staff work on necessary paperwork, and identify a safe and nurturing foster placement. We hope that what started out as a traumatizing day can end with them feeling safe and loved.
One of the first steps was to indentify a locally licensed foster home that was willing to be the caregivers for Sparrow House and provide the location. The family is willing to provide transportation when needed, to pick up kids, go to the local office or drop off at the new foster placement. The services provided for children by Sparrow House are clean clothes and new shoes, a shower or bath, lice treatments when needed, a First Night Bag filled with essential items, a blanket and stuffed animal, a sensory toy, a meal or snack, and a place to sleep for overnight stay, if needed. They also take the kids to do fun activities in the community when time allows.
To date sparrow house has been able to support 22 kids. This includes several sibling groups, older youth, as well as 4 overnight stays that allowed the agency to find the best possible placement.
As you read this we hope your heart was stirred to get involved and a desire was born to help. There are several different ways you can get involved. First, financial support is always a priority. This program is not funded by the state and the supplies needed for essential items and activities are always welcome. Second, Sparrow House can use material items like shoes, clothes, pajamas, toiletries, lice treatments, gift cards for restaurants and activities, etc. Finally, we love when individuals share what we are doing. Your voice will not only help spread awareness, but it may also may touch someone’s heart and they may get involved by becoming a foster parent or volunteering to help. If you want to know more, click here and let us know.