SAN ANTONIO – At present, 43 foster children in Bexar County are sleeping in offices or hotel rooms because they have nowhere to go.
âThey are called CWOP children, which are children without a placement. There are a lot of factors that come into play. COVID is a big factor, âsaid Jennifer Smith, executive director of South Texas Alliance for Orphans.
Smith said families feared bringing more people to their homes during a pandemic, which would reduce the already low number of available foster families.
She also said an influx of child abuse cases and referrals occurred as the lockdown ended, putting pressure on an already inundated system.
South Texas Alliance for Orphans bridges collaboration and communication between the state, churches, and community when it comes to foster care resources.
âIt’s just sometimes hard to get everyone to go in the same direction. So we get to fill that role of making sure everyone knows where the needs are, how to meet the needs and where the resources are in our community, âsaid Smith.
This is exactly what she is doing now to help foster children who live and sleep in office buildings and hotels. Smith strives to make them as comfortable as possible.
To do this, she teams up with Richard and Brooke Peacock, owners of the DUO restaurant group, which includes Chris Madrids and Paloma Blanca.
âWe probably have a pretty unusual mission statement for a restaurant group which is to love people through what we do. As we learned more about this crisis that was unfolding in foster families, especially these children sleeping in offices, we had to get involved, âsaid Richard Peacock.
For two years now, the Peacocks have been working on long-term investment initiatives, primarily focusing on those aging outside the system, but they have heard of the immediate need and have started to help raise donations.
“What we were mainly able to provide thanks to donations from the community are sheets, blankets, pillows, gift cards to restaurants, we just made a big donation to help the children get their hair cut. “said Smith.
Peacock’s main role at the moment is to involve other local businesses. He asks them to offer gift cards, fun activities or find a way to help donate.
âI hope some will say, ‘Monday nights in August we’ll donate 20% of the profits.’ Other companies can think of something different, âsaid Peacock.
He said the possibilities are endless as long as the whole community comes together to help its most precious, voiceless and vulnerable members.
Individual community members are also encouraged to donate and volunteer. If you’d like to help, visit the South Texas Alliance for Orphan’s website.
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