Fosterful, a nonprofit organization, is a community of qualified volunteers partnering with Social Workers and Foster Caregivers to provide a nurturing environment and a caring companion to children experiencing foster care.
Our volunteers keep children occupied and safe, acting as caring companions and sidekicks when it's needed most, through quality child care - both in the foster home and in the child welfare office.
We give Caregivers (both Foster and Kinship) and Social Workers the space, support, and peace of mind to take care of important responsibilities and take a breath.
We fill little bellies, bring tissues where there are tears, and put stuffies in the arms of kiddos facing the hardships that come with experiencing the foster care system.
Fosterful’s vision is to establish and sustain efforts throughout Washington and Idaho where children and families experiencing foster care have the support they greatly need through quality child care and tangible resources.
Our dream, while growing thoughtfully and sustainably, is to establish a presence in all 50 states.
We value children. We value communities collaborating on their behalf. We value awareness about foster care. We think that minimizing trauma is key, and so we aim to meet the immediate needs of the vulnerable children and families we serve. We believe in relationships and seek to steward those through purposeful transparency with our volunteers, social workers, caregivers, partners, and donors. We value the differences that make each of us unique individuals and seek to maintain a respectful and inclusive environment for all volunteers, staff, and the people we serve.
In 2013, co-founder Sarah Desjarlais was a foster parent attending a meeting at the child welfare office in Vancouver, Washington. During that meeting, she saw a little boy sitting alone in a conference room – his meal and toys sitting untouched. He was alone, in every sense of the word. His social worker sat across the hall, feverishly working the phone, trying to find a place he could call home. It occurred to her how hard it must be to do everything required of a social worker - and give a child who has just endured trauma the attention and comfort they need. A conversation with CPS supervisor Kim Karu followed, and the two women founded what was then known as Office Moms & Dads - using a mother's intuition and a social worker's know-how.
Throughout the pandemic, as child welfare offices remained shuttered and intake numbers went down, our volunteers rallied to support local foster care communities. They provided meals, remote learning supplies, boxes of new clothing, Holiday gifts, and more to kids in care and their families. Funders stepped up, and we got busy training more volunteers to answer the tidal wave of needs that would come.
In 2020 we joined the national conversation about systemic racism, because children of color have been, and continue to be, overrepresented in foster care. As we met with tribal leaders and members of Black and Hispanic community groups to hear their thoughts on how to become a more inclusive organization, a common topic of conversation was the title we had given ourselves as Office "Moms and Dads". For many children, the title of ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad’ is reserved for two people alone. It doesn’t matter what they did - kids will always love their parents on some level. We had to honor that family culture. We had to change our name.
We believe that 'Fosterful' highlights the fact that we have become more than just caring companions. Through trauma-informed care practices, we provide nurturing environments and basic necessities to kids entering foster care. While those things will always be the heartbeat of what we do, we now have room to grow into a MOVEMENT for changing the System from the inside out.
What started with five volunteers in one child welfare office, has grown to nearly 400 volunteers (and counting) across Washington and Idaho.
Meet the board
Dr. Natalia Mathews
Meet the team
Regional Manager, Region 1 & 2, Idaho
Director of Philanthropy
What & why
Fosterful is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization founded in Vancouver, Washington (USA) in 2013. Fosterful deploys qualified volunteers throughout Washington and Idaho who sit with and entertain children who are experiencing foster care - often, children who have undergone unspeakable trauma. Our volunteers serve in their local child welfare office on an on-call basis, as well as within foster homes as assigned, and strive to make the day just a little bit better for children, caregivers, and social workers.
Children experiencing the foster care system are often caught in limbo - whether it’s waiting at the child welfare office for a long-term placement or being shuffled around from caregiver to caregiver. This space of unknowing can be one of the most frightening and uncertain times in a child’s life. Having a person during this time can help ease the trauma these kiddos experience. Our volunteers help alleviate stress on Social Workers and Caregivers, caring for the child’s immediate needs, and serving the foster care community in a tangible way.
Fosterful is funded by philanthropy. We depend on the generous support of individuals, corporations, and charitable foundations in the communities we serve. Special thanks to these Foundations who have made significant contributions toward the sustainability of Fosterful, and to these presenting sponsors of our major fundraising events.