The Stillwaters Initiative: Safe Havens for Foster Families

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The Stillwaters Initiative: Safe Havens for Foster Families

One of the biggest challenges of the current foster care crisis in the United States comes down to a simple but devastating problem: there aren’t enough homes or group facilities for children in foster care. As a response, For Others created the Stillwaters initiative to provide safe havens for children and families involved in foster care. What began as a program in a handful of states has steadily grown over the last few years to become one of our biggest passion projects.

Why Do We Need Stillwaters?

In 2021, approximately 672,000 kids spent time in foster care; in the same year, there were only 212,421 foster families. The shortage of foster families creates a massive disparity when it comes to “safe homes” for children and youth. As a result, kids without placements have nowhere to go, often sleeping in Child Services offices or hotels.

Children currently in foster care aren’t the only ones who are suffering. About 25% of transitioning youth (young adults who turn 18 and legally age out of state custody) will become homeless the day they leave care, and 40% will be homeless within 18 months. There aren’t enough beds, independent living facilities, or transitional living resources for this vulnerable population. Without a support system or reliable housing, establishing stable independence becomes exponentially more difficult.

This is not acceptable.

How Does the Stillwaters Initiative Work?

Through our Stillwaters initiative, we seek to provide temporary safe havens for at-risk children and youth impacted by the child welfare system, as well as young adults aging out of foster care.  We do this through investing in partners who create these safe spaces. Each partner is closely reviewed before being added to the program to ensure they have a measurable, evidence-based, and scalable model.

Children and youth

Studies estimate that 9 out of 10 children and youth who enter foster care experience a traumatic event. Half of them endure four or more events like this in their life. When children are taken from their homes, it’s understandably terrifying and confusing. Each subsequent move and length of stay builds deeper trauma for kids and youth.

Our Stillwaters Affiliates provide children and youth in foster care with a refuge where they can be served, nourished, and cared for in a home-like setting. Some locations operate as temporary transition homes approved by the state. Other locations have built entire Foster Family Neighborhoods with houses and resources exclusively for families who foster. Between local churches, community partners, and state provisions, these communities and houses provide secure places for children and youth to land in the midst of chaotic circumstances.

Young adults (aging out of state care)

Young adults aging out of foster care without a loving and stable support system are 97% more likely to end up in chronic poverty. In other words, they leave the child welfare state only to enter another welfare state of homelessness, incarceration, or worse. 

Our Stillwaters Affiliates supply a nurturing place where transitional-age youth can cultivate their God-given potential to thrive. We work to create a support system that allows young adults to be inspired and equipped to accomplish their dreams as they learn to navigate adulthood. These spaces will seek to mirror the type of ongoing family and community support many upwardly mobile families provide their children, to help them succeed in life.  Providing the necessary dedicated support system for these young adults as they mature into adulthood is crucial to decreasing their chances of chronic poverty and other hardships.

Who are the Stillwaters Affiliates?

A Stillwaters Affiliate is an organization that For Others partners with for our Stillwaters initiative. Each potential Stillwaters Affiliate undergoes a thorough review before being considered for the program. Once approved, we work alongside them and the rest of our Stillwaters partners to sustain and expand the life-changing services they provide in their area. They also receive priority access to resources such as mentorship programs, scholarships, grants, retreats, concert tickets and excursions, and more.

Our current Stillwaters Affiliates include:

When you support For Others, you’re supporting programs like Stillwaters that directly affect children and young adults harmed by foster care. There are children and families in these housing units and planned communities who rely on heroes like you. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank each of our donors, partners, and volunteers who choose to stand in the gap daily on behalf of those in need.

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