Needs and Deeds: Giving help, hope for children in foster care

Needs & Deeds: Citizens Caring for Children aims to help better the lives of children in foster care in Oklahoma.
By Tess Thomson, For The Oklahoman Published: January 13, 2014
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After helping more than 4,000 children last year, Citizens Caring for Children is continuing its efforts to help the lives of children in foster care.

Citizens Caring for Children is a nonprofit organization that provides resources and mentors to children in the foster care system in Oklahoma. This is a way for children to get some of their basic needs along with some stability in their lives.

“A lot of times, when kids are taken out of a home, they literally walk out with what they have on,” Executive Director Sherri O'Neil said. “They don't get to pack a bag.”

Foster care children are allowed to come to the nonprofit's resource center four times a year. The resource center is full of clothes, supplies and toiletry items. A foster care child is given a duffel bag the first visit and is allowed to pick out any item he or she wants.

“We never know when we're going to get a call, so we are always stocked,” O'Neil said.

The organization's mentor program matches an adult with a foster care child. For one year, the mentor and foster care child meet together at least once a week by phone or in person. Having a mentor is important because it gives children a person they can rely on outside of their foster parents.

Citizens Caring for Children have mentors of all ages, but the organization tries to focus on mentors who are young professionals. It's critical for the foster care children to be able to look up to someone who has gone to school, can give them the attention they need and be a good role model.

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