More than once, it has been pointed out the irony in the name Foster’s Home for Children and its founders. A foster home is defined as a place where a child is placed in another’s care. Perhaps it was a higher intervention that encouraged Sherwood and Myrtie Foster to charter the home in 1958 with the first children taken into care in the winter of 1960. The single home has grown to seven residential group care cottages, five to eight children per cottage, in Stephenville and a second campus near Hico, the W.P. and Lucille Brummett Youth Ranch. Presently, there are 43 children, from pre-school to 12th grade, who are receiving many of the same advantages as other children.
Glenn Newberry, President/CEO of Foster’s Home, says that the programs provided have resulted in success for the children placed in the home’s care where they can feel safe and secure and receive the care and nurturing not received in their home environments.
“There are 14 kids whose parents are presently incarcerated,” Newberry said. “Some have families with drug histories as well as other negative surroundings. Others join us when extended family members can no longer care for the children.”
They arrive from all parts of Texas. However, the number of Stephenville community’s residents is increasing.
“Presently, there are more local kids in care, which is as high as I can remember in 16 years as president,” he said, adding that nine of the 43 are from Stephenville.
Four master teachers work with the students two nights a week to assure that homework is completed and passing grades achieved. Study time in each home is an everyday event. One staff liaison member attends required school conferences, completes enrollment information, and anything else to assure that students blend in with the rest of the student body. The children are taken in regardless of their faith, although the Church of Christ is its foundation with 150 churches throughout Texas offering support. Foster’s Home also oversees Cross Timbers Family Services, a family violence program for the Home’s residents and the community.
“Our children participate in various extra-curriculum events at school,” Newberry said. “Twenty were in the 4-H program last year, traveled with their animals to various contests, and made sales.”
He explained that part of their out-of-school education is to experience the real world by managing the money they make. A portion goes to Foster’s Home for its expense in helping to raise the stock, for veterinary bills, and other expenses. The child then budgets the remainder for personal expenses. The RFD channel recently filmed a segment on showing animals, which included several from Foster’s Home.
Other school activities students participate in are the drill team, sports, band, and one debate student competed in last year’s state tournament in Austin. To supplement studies, each cottage is furnished with wireless Internet service, and laptops have been provided as funds are donated.
The home’s occupants are rewarded for their educational successes. Each six weeks, those with improved grades and highest grade point averages are recognized. One student received a “recognized” status on all three levels of TAKS and was rewarded. Other significant recognitions are given at the end of school awards ceremony. Each senior who graduates is provided a car, donated by a patron for that purpose. Newberry stated this year will be a challenge, since there are quite a few scheduled to graduate. Scholarships are now a reality due to the community’s generosity. One positive effect on these students is that school labels have lessened in the last few years to allow them to be viable members of any group. Also, others relate to these children because of the many problems that are prevalent in today’s families.
One of the special events to remember is open house on Children’s Day on Sept. 8, when 200 to 400 guests tour the campus and view some of the children’s achievements.
The CEO lauds his house parents.
“They are tremendously dedicated to the children,” he said. “Some have been with us six to eight years.”
The job is considered a ministry for the evolution of children to accept circumstances and ultimately realize this facility is a gift to enhance their future. Community sponsors also volunteer their assistance. Some take children on vacations, field trips, and furnish school supplies and clothes. Last year five eighth grade students were sponsored to travel to Washington, D.C., and two choir members were able to go to New York this summer.
Upon completion of school, or their required time, most return home, but many remain in contact. They regard Foster’s Home for Children as their family roots and remember and appreciate those who guided them through the troubled days.
Currently, the Foster’s Home is undergoing renovation pains. Twenty-Ten Capital Campaign is underway for new residential homes, remodeling those that were built at various times between 1955 and 1996, a campus commissary, an equipment building, and parking lot and RV park for those visiting the children. Projected completion is 2010. The Campaign Goal is $1,444,000. Newberry said that two-thirds of the operating revenue is from faithful individual donors. State funds are non-existent unless a state entity has made a placement in the home and then pays a percentage of daily expenses. Therefore, continued support from the community is sought. Newberry’s Capital Campaign brochure letter states, “This community has helped Foster’s Home care for more than 3,000 children in our 46 years, providing them with emotional stability, physical development, and spiritual growth. The future of this ministry starts now, with the continued support of friends like you.” Gifts for the advancement of living quarters and other needed construction are tax deductible. The contact address is firstname.lastname@example.org.