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- August 12, 2021
Barrington Area Community Foundation Awards Grant for Children in Foster Care
As a pilot project that can be built as a model to expand to other communities, the Barrington Area Community Foundation has funded an awareness campaign and foster parent recruitment campaign managed by Let It Be Us, a 501(c)3 that identifies, recruits, and trains new foster parents in the Barrington Area and throughout the Northern Region, Cook County, and the entire state.
The campaign will identify medical providers, mental health providers, and businesses that support children in foster care. “The education and recognition that is born from the project will not only bring about awareness for the need for community support for children in foster care, but foster care education also leads to foster parent recruitment,” said Susan McConnell, Executive Director of Let It Be Us, “and that’s always a great outcome.”
The Barrington Area Community Foundation funded foster parent recruitment efforts through Let It Be Us in the Barrington Area in 2019-2020 and as a result the need for identifying service providers was evident. “When a child in foster care is moved into a licensed foster home in the Barrington area one of the first steps is to identify a pediatrician, a counselor, a dentist, and so on,” said McConnell. “We want to reduce that learning curve for the foster parents and identify these providers ahead of time. We also want to commend providers and businesses that are on board and encourage those who may not yet be on board to adopt this opportunity to help these most vulnerable children,” McConnell continued.
The concept was originally crafted by Eileen Turkot, an active foster parent within the Barrington Area and a Let It Be Us board member. Turkot was raised in Barrington, attended Barrington schools, and remembers that while growing up, welcoming children through foster care into the community was a rarity. As Turkot and her husband, Raimundo Gaete, became licensed foster parents through Let It Be Us and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and welcomed children into their home alongside their three biological children, they quickly realized that it was difficult to find providers within the community. The family was forced to drive far distances to meet their foster children’s needs. “We particularly struggled with child care and medical care providers. We felt that providers were simply unaware that the need to serve these children was real and that the need was right here,” recalls Turkot. Ultimately the Gaete family’s own pediatrician, Dr. Judith Brown, of Pediatric Associates of Barrington, stepped up, as did mental health providers from Barrington Youth and Family Services, and Canlan Sportsplex in Lake Barrington for after-school care. “Growing up in the Barrington community and now raising my own family here gives me a unique perspective on what a great place this is to live. I want our foster children to feel like they are also a part of this great community, and I believe this program will make Barrington a more inclusive place.”
Carolyne Osterhues, an active foster and adoptive parent within the Barrington Area, is also working on the project that is funded by the grant. “Philanthropy begins at home,” says Osterhues. “I’m excited to identify these providers so that children through foster care in our community can most easily have their needs met.”
In order for medical care providers to allow services to a child in foster care they need to accept that child’s medical insurance, which is provided by the state. The same applies for mental health providers and dental care providers. The awareness campaign reaches beyond medical, mental health, and dental care providers and identifies other service providers that benefit and focus on children in foster care: day care providers, after school care providers, occupational therapists, hair stylists, clothing stores, shoe stores, and so on.”
Providers and merchants that participate in the awareness campaign will receive a digital “Foster Friendly” badge for their website, a sticker for their window, and recognition throughout the year by the Let It Be Us Foster Friendly Provider Awareness Campaign.
The Barrington Area is defined as the Village of Barrington, North Barrington, South Barrington, Lake Barrington, Barrington Hills, Tower Lakes, Deer Park, Carpentersville, and Fox River Grove. Service providers or businesses in these areas who would like to be a part of the Foster Friendly community built around children in foster care are welcome to contact Carolyne Osterhues at email@example.com.
About the Barrington Area Community Foundation
Since its founding in 1999, BACF has granted over $2.5 million in the form of over 350 grants to 100 different Barrington area NFP through its own annual grant cycle. Learn more about the Barrington Area Community Foundation at: www.barringtonareacommunityfoundation.org.