Foster care foundation: Nine women stand posing in a line smiling at the camera. Behind them are racks of hanging clothing. The two women in the middle are holding a sign featuring a graphic of children that reads
Members of the Roswell Cares Service League volunteer at the Foster Care Support Foundation, helping sort through donations and organize them for distribution. (Kelsey Henry/Fresh Take Georgia)

“It was a woman in her 70s and she came in crying. Her brother had been shot and killed and he left four kids behind, ages 2, 4, 8 and 11, no mother. She had to bring those four kids home with her. You are at that point in your life and all of a sudden you get this call, someone in your family is dead and you have to raise four children. What do you do?” asked Rick Freeman, a volunteer at the Foster Care Support Foundation. 

The foundation provides clothing, infant equipment, developmental toys and books to thousands of children and their relatives in Georgia. Volunteers help families afford some of those essentials that kids need.

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, there are about 400,000 children in foster care across the country. Most people believe the families of these kids receive money from the government to help support them. However, for 80% of kids in foster care, that is not the case. 

In Georgia, if children who enter the foster system have a relative willing to care for them, guardianship is transferred to that family member, rather than a foster family or group home. What people do not know is when children are fostered by their family members, the relative receives no funding from the government to support their foster child.

This can turn into a major financial problem for families who did not plan to house children but did not want to turn away their own. This is especially true for grandparents and other retired people who do not have a steady income.

This is where the Foster Care Support Foundation steps in. Rachel Ewald started the foundation in November 2020. 

“It started in my garage and has grown to today where we give out 8 to 10 million dollars worth of stuff a year,” Ewald said. 

Last year the foundation helped about 3,200 foster kids. This year, that number is expected to surpass 4,000.

“We are not funded by the government,” Ewald said. “We are funded by people like you and me.” 

The foundation grows larger every year, especially during the winter season.  

“Winter is crucial” she said. “The kids need clothes in the cold, and we always serve grandparents raising kids first.”  

Rick Freeman is not only a volunteer, but also serves on the foundation’s board.  

“I fell in love with it,” he said. “I do not think a lot of people understand foster care, these people do not get funding, money or an accurate level of support.”  

Freeman discovered the foundation two years ago after he retired and was looking for volunteer opportunities.  

“Seeing the kids for Christmas is my favorite,” he said. 

Ranelle Mullings is a program specialist at the Foster Care Support Foundation, but she used to work for the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) in Fulton County as a case worker.  

“When I worked for DFCS, I used to have to Google ‘free clothes’ for the children,” she said. “They come in with nothing.”  

Mullings stumbled across the foundation three years ago and has not left since. 

The Foster Care Support Foundation continues to expand its services across Georgia and expects to hit new highs this year in donations. To donate and learn more about the organization, visit its website here.

Mullings wants everyone to know, “we are here, and the children are in need.”   

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