Special Focus of the Milwaukee Community Journal: FOSTER CARE AWARENESS MONTH

Written by admin   // May 13, 2011   // 0 Comments

Wisconsinites Do HandStands to Draw Attention to Foster Family Shortage

Statewide Flash Mobs via Social Media Campaign to draw attention and recruit foster care families

Article courtesy of Sacramento Bee via Adoption Resources of Wisconsin

Motorists were probably alarmed as they drove down streets around Wisconsin and saw people standing on their heads.

They shouldn’t be. These Wisconsinsites stood on their heads earlier this week as part of a statewide foster care family recruitment campaign, called “Turn a Life Around.” In fact, during Tuesday’s rush hour, flash mobs throughout Wisconsin (including Milwaukee, Madison, Eau Claire, La Crosse and Green Bay) lined up along major streets, doing assisted handstands.

This is all a demonstration to help draw attention to Wisconsin’s shortage of foster families, as the Adoption Resources of Wisconsin (ARW) reports that the state needs 1,000 new foster families to help meet the growing rate of children entering foster care.

Why handstands?

“For kids without parents or a safe, stable place to call home, their world is upside down,” said Gary Mueller, founder of Serve marketing and campaign creator.

“We took the upside down world of kids and applied it to every part of the campaign to create an emotional connection, instill a sense of urgency and inspire more adults to become foster parents.”

Coordinating with May’s National Foster Care Awareness Month, the “Turn a Life Around” campaign began in April and will run through the end of May. Aside from flash mobs of handstanders, the campaign launched a new website in April: FosterParentsRock.org, which provides information on how to become a foster parent.

Supporters started flipping their Facebook profile pictures upside down on April 25 while images of a foster parent and child appeared upside down on billboards throughout the state last month and flipped right side up on May 2 with the addition of: “Turn a life around. Become a foster parent.” Statewide TV stations will air campaign PSAs throughout May, illustrating the world of a child without a home, where everything they see is upside down.

“Every two hours, a child in Wisconsin enters foster care because of abuse, neglect or alcohol and drugs in the home. For thousands of kids who are without parents, or a safe or stable home, it is absolutely critical that more people consider opening their homes to foster children,” said Colleen Ellingson, chief executive officer of ARW.

Foster families are especially needed for children eight years or older because this age group is less likely than younger children to find consistent foster families and more likely to stay in foster care than become adopted. Every year, more than 300 foster kids turn 18 without ever having a permanent family.

“We wanted to reach people in a unique way and spark positive conversation about the need for more foster parents in Wisconsin. Hopefully, by the end of this campaign, we will have helped to create new homes for deserving children,” said Mueller.

For more information about the “Turn a Life Around” campaign, becoming a foster parent, or ARW, visit: http://fosterparentsrock.org.

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