SAN ANTONIO – Right now, 43 Bexar County foster children are sleeping in offices or hotel rooms because they have no where else to go.
“They’re referred to as CWOP kids, which are Children Without Placement. There’s a lot of factors that go into this. COVID is a big factor,” said Jennifer Smith, executive director of South Texas Alliance for Orphans.
Smith said families were worried to bring more people into their homes during a pandemic, which cut down on the already low number of available foster families.
She also said an influx of child abuse cases and removals came in when the lockdown ended, putting pressure on an already flooded system.
South Texas Alliance for Orphans bridges collaboration and communication between the state, churches, and the community when it comes to foster care resources.
“It’s just sometimes hard to get everybody going in the same direction. So, we get to fill that role of making sure everybody knows where the needs are, how to meet the needs and where are the resources in our community,” Smith said.
That’s exactly what she’s doing now to help the foster children living and sleeping in office buildings and hotels. Smith is working to make them as comfortable as possible.
To do that, she’s teaming up with Richard and Brooke Peacock, who own the DUO restaurant group, which includes Chris Madrids and Paloma Blanca.
“We have probably a pretty unusual mission statement for a restaurant group which is, to love on people through what we do. As we learned more about this crisis going on in foster care, especially these kids sleeping in offices, we had to get involved,” Richard Peacock said.
For two years now the Peacocks have been working on long-term foster care initiatives, mainly focusing on those who age out of the system, but they heard about the immediate need and started helping pull in donations.
“Mostly what we’ve been able to provide from donations from the community is sheets, and blankets, and pillows, gift cards to restaurants, we just made a big donation to help the kids get haircuts,” Smith said.
Peacock’s main role right now is to get other local businesses involved. He’s asking them to offer gift cards, fun activities or find a way to help donate.
“I’m hoping some will say, ‘On Monday nights in August we’ll donate 20% of profits.’ Other businesses may think of something different,” Peacock said.
He said the possibilities are endless as long as the whole community comes together to help its most precious, voiceless and vulnerable members.
Individual community members are encouraged to donate and volunteer, too. If you’re interested in helping, visit the South Texas Alliance for Orphan’s website.