Foster Village opens branch in Peoria
PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - The Kunzeman family welcomed a young foster child into their home nearly a year ago.
“We love him like he’s ours and we hope that he’ll be able to go home. Reunification is really the goal of foster care,” Foster mother Emily Kunzeman said.
They belonged to a community that supported their decision to foster and helped care for them.
“They are our village, they are our tribe,” Kunzeman said.
Even with support, they still ha a need for a private place to meet with the child’s biological family.
“To help protect the privacy and the dignity of the family, it’s nice to go to a private spot and there are not too many of those available,” Kunzeman said.
The organization Foster Village opened a new branch in Peoria. They offered a room for family visits in the evenings and on the weekends when foster agencies aren’t open, among other things.
“We provide resources and support for caregivers in the community,” Executive director of Foster Village Peoria Cheriz Kunkel said.
Located inside University United Methodist Church. Their goal was to strengthen the foster care system by offering support.
“Not only do we want to find new foster parents but we also want to help to keep the ones that we have,” Kunkel said.
They gave welcome bags full of clothes, toiletries, and comfort needs to families, as well as provided support after families reunite.
“Biological parents when they reunify, they often feel overwhelmed because there is little support. Agencies can only support a biological parent for up to six months and it’s a very limited way. We also want to help those kids stay connected and stay out of the system,” Kunkel said.
They hoped to expand their services.
“There are so many other things that we want to be able to provide and we have a five-year goal plan with other services that we want to roll out in the future,” Kunkel said.
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