Rachel Ewald and her husband Mark have four biological children and have fostered 34 others over the years. As a little girl, there was an orphanage in the next town where she grew up, and she never forgot the lonely look on the children’s faces as they peered through the chain link fence watching people pass by. It saddened her that they did not have a mother like she did.
There are 13,000 and 15,000 children in Georgia’s foster care system. Foster Care Support Foundation, Inc. (FCS) evolved after Ewald’s 14 years of fostering children. She saw how little support and knowledge there was about the foster care community and their needs. This organization began in her garage in 1996 to meet the first-hand need for supplemental support for foster parents. FCS is dedicated to improving the lives of Georgia’s at-risk children in soter care homes by providing free, supplemental to qualified, non-relative basic care homes. These homes receive from $12.75 to $14.25 per day to meet most of the needs of their foster children.
She saw there are too many invisible neglected children needing things the rest of the world has and takes for granted each day. Countless children arrive at foster homes with only the clothing on their backs each day, and in many cases that has to be discarded. A collection of new and gently used clothing, toys, shoes, books, infant equipment was given directly to the foster child because of the Foundation.
The motto is “All Kids Count,” and Ewald realized she could provide a special need for children in the foster care system. She acquired the use of a trailer on the grounds of a local church and after a year had outgrown to a partially donated storefront in a shopping plaza. They are now in a 7,000 sq ft facility which enables the foster parent and child to shop in a store atmosphere, giving the foster child a sense of normalcy in an unfortunate situation. Sponsors are always in need to fund the program to make sure that these children do not return to invisibility.
As of December 2003, over 4,000 children have not been forgotten, thanks to Foster Care Support Foundation. Each child, after verification from their county DFACS office, receives clothes, toys, new shoes, socks and underwear, toys and books. Infants can receive a crib or bassinette, bottles, stroller, car seat, highchair and an arrat of necessary items needed to care for them safely. No money exchanges hands because all items are free.
FCS has no paid employees. With an average operating budget of $150,000 for the 2003 year, the project is run with volunteers from the surrounding communities, churches, churches and civic organizations. Ewald volunteers an average of 40 hours each week and receives no compensation. She was recognized as the recipient of the 2003 Commissioners’ Award, a national award from the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) by the state of Georgia for outstanding achievement in the field of child abuse and neglect prevention.