If you have a soft spot for children in foster care, you have a new opportunity to help these kids who’ve often experienced more trauma than the rest of us have seen in a lifetime.

A new clothing closet and resource center has just opened in Hannibal to serve foster children and families in the 10th Judicial Circuit in northeast Missouri. Embrace Children and Families is located at 582 Clinic Road in Hannibal. EMBRACE stands for Encouraging, Mentoring, Believing In, Restoring, Affirming, Caring, and Engaging. It was created to provide resources for foster children and their families along their journeys.

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The group is the brainchild of three friends, Beth Brothers, Katie Walker-Williams, and Kelsie Bien.

“I am a foster parent myself and have also taken on my husband's older 2 kiddos with major trauma,” Bien said. “I as a foster parent know the limited resources that our circuit has to offer and want to help with that need.”

Walker-Williams also has personal experience in the foster care system. “As a young child, I was in the foster care system myself, and was luckily able to be cared for and eventually adopted as an adult by my grandparents, who have always been mom and dad to me,” she said. “I have seen several foster parents give up on a child because the foster parents simply weren’t prepared, and each time a child is moved from one home to another, the child experiences trauma one more time, eventually leading to adverse outcomes. We would also like to work to prepare older youth as they exit care. This is very important because many of these kiddos are not prepared for life after foster care and the outcomes experienced are greatly adverse.”

Brothers told me, “I just have a heart for children who didn’t get to experience the loving family that I did. Also, I worked in addiction medicine and saw firsthand effects of addiction and what it does to families.”

The Embrace Children and Families doesn’t have set hours at this time. You can contact them at their Facebook Page to set up an appointment. What the group is focused on at the moment is collecting donations to stock the shelves. Their biggest need right now is large totes, new underwear, socks, and pjs of any size.