PRYOR, OK —
When it comes to the foster care system, things are pretty transient.
Children are shuffled from location to location often taking nothing with them. Foster parents must be ready at a moment’s notice to pick up the child and take them home. Not knowing specifics about the child or their needs ahead of time, often foster parents find it difficult to plan ahead.
Fostering World Changers is meeting that need. The non-profit organization is founded and operated by Nicole Deatherage, a foster parent.
“It started with a group of us foster parents who built up a stash of supplies that we would pass within the group,” said Deatherage of essential child care items like diapers, cribs and clothing.
“Right now the donations we accept are either passed to a family already in need or stored at my home until someone needs the items,” she said. “I would love nothing more than to have a building filled wall-to-wall with supplies so that every single one of our children would have exactly what they need the moment they are taken into custody. And, more importantly, that no child is turned away because of a lack of items needed to care for that child.”
Deatherage wanted more stability for foster parents, and fewer late-night urgent phone calls trying to gather last-minute essentials.
She wanted to open a resource center and after months of planning she is seeing her work pay off.
“I recently talked to Pryor's Mayor Jimmy Tramel and introduced myself. Every step of my journey it seems like I needed to get something from the mayor so I went ahead and introduced myself,” said Deatherage. “I told him who we are and about our long-term goals and he told me about Bob (Ayres) at the Pryor Ministry Center.”
Deatherage describes driving through Pryor and deciding on a whim to make an unplanned stop at the Pryor Ministry Center. Ayres happened to be there that day.
“Bob told me it was amazing I had come that day because he isn't usually there, he just happened to stop by. It was definitely a God thing,” said Deatherage.
She explained FWC to Ayres, telling him her current situation as well as her long-term goals.
“He instantly got on board,” said Deatherage, and before she knew it Fostering World Changers was moving in to the second floor of the Pryor Ministry Center.
Now, essential items will be housed in a central location making it easier for both donors and foster parents.
Deatherage said FWC meets the second Friday of every month for training.
“Each meeting gives foster parents two training hours towards their annual 12 required,” said Deatherage, who pointed out the meeting also gives foster parents time to connect with others who understand their situation. Deatherage is also available for public speaking engagements.
Deatherage emphasizes the need for foster parents is great, and a resource center to help ease the burden is essential.
“Mayes County has 79 children in foster care, with only 13 foster homes. Craig County has 17 children in foster care with only two foster homes, me being one of them. Rogers County has 87 children in foster care with only 15 foster homes,” said Deatherage. “That's 183 children with only 30 homes.”
Deatherage said this often means siblings are split up and some children are taken to shelters.
“Right now Tulsa and Oklahoma City shelters are over capacity. Currently Oklahoma takes in approximately 600 children each month, that's more than the national average,” she said.
Deatherage has a passion to take care of both the foster kids and the families.
“The community needs to step up and help because these children are our children. Every child deserves a family not a shelter,” said Deatherage, who admits that becoming a foster parent is not for everyone.
“But everyone can do something. Fostering World Changes Donation and Resource Center was created to give everyone that opportunity,” Deatherage said.
The center is looking for volunteers to help sort and distribute donations as needed. Deatherage said donations are always accepted. Items such as formula, diapers, clothes, beds, car seats and cribs are needed. Deatherage said she is always available by phone, 918-323-6859, to answer questions or meet up with foster parents or donors. The center is located at 15 SW Third St. in Pryor, behind the police department. The center can also be reached by phone at 918-824-1128.