The Williamson County Foster & Adoption Care Association, a nonprofit founded in May 2018, is in the process of collecting new toys for an upcoming foster care Christmas party that will be held for foster children in Williamson, Davidson and Rutherford counties.
The group is needing new, unwrapped toys for infants 0-1 year old and board games and $5 or $10 fast food or movie gift cards for teens. It needs approximately 100 items for each age group, and the party is scheduled for Dec. 14.
“We need the help of our community to make this happen,” said Julie Sutton, who founded WCFACA with her husband, John Sutton.
She added that individuals or corporations wanting to get involved with the toy drive can reach the association at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by contacting Sutton at 615-975-6571.
As foster parents in Williamson County for the past seven years, the Suttons have seen firsthand how difficult a job fostering can be for families. They have fostered children from infants to 13 years old, ranging from those who came from poverty-ridden homes to upper-middle-class families.
“We know there’s such a high turnover of foster parents that we found we really needed to offer support so they know they’re not alone in their foster care journey,” Sutton said of what led the couple to start WCFACA. “Not every case is easy, so you have to be supportive.
“Our primary goal is to offer support, resources, education and social events for foster parents in Williamson County.”
The group holds monthly meetings for not only members but also for other foster families, as well as special programs. In October, for instance, it presented Christian singer-songwriter Juan Ortero, a former foster child who shared his experience of growing up in foster care.
Sutton said the nonprofit has solid support from Williamson County Juvenile Court Judge Sharon Guffee and Juvenile Court Director Zannie Martin, and it also has a strong relationship with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.
“DCS has done a great job helping foster parents,” Sutton said. “They actually have mentors for foster families, and that has been a great asset. I think new foster parents need to learn how to navigate the system. They need that extra support.”
As for the Suttons, they took their caring for children to a new level in January 2017, when they adopted a 10-year-old child they had been fostering since she was 7. They are in the process of adopting another child.
“It’s hard being a foster parent,” Sutton said. “It’s one of the toughest jobs you have to do. But we’re here to help take care of these kids.”