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Local moms partner to help abused kids recover - Baby Center Blog

Kate Kortbus is a busy working mother of four children under the age of ten years. Despite her hectic schedule, when she became aware of a local organization advocating for abused and traumatized children, she was moved to action. Kortbus quickly galvanized local moms to form a volunteer organization to coordinate efforts on behalf of the Astor Services for Children and Families.

Astor Services for Children and Families rehabilitates foster children who have experienced severe abuse and trauma. The organization operates as a non-profit organization and receives government funding through the New York State Department of Mental Health and the Department of Children & Family Services.

Sonia Barnes-Moorhead, Executive Vice-President of Astor Children’s Foundation, explains that the organization accepts foster children who have not been successfully placed with a family. Ironiocally, many placements have failed as the result of their trauma histories.

Barnes-Moorehead describes the rehabilitative and therapeutic center as the “last stop before hospitalization.” Children are referred by foster care advocates. They live on premises. They receive extensive therapeutic services. These services include art therapy, education, and outdoor sports and activities such as fishing and gardening. Many of these services have been supported by local volunteers.

Children range in age from five years old to fourteen years old, with a median stay of eighteen months.

Barnes-Moorehead describes a typical residential case:

Brothers Anthony and Jacob came to Astor’s residential program after suffering a high degree of trauma in their home. Parental rights were terminated. Their history was marred by neglect and abuse. Fast forward a couple of years – Anthony plays on the Little League baseball team and loves to paint. Jacob donated one of his cars so that ‘another child can also use it.’ These boys have the biggest hearts. It shows what can happen when children in need receive services they need.”

When Kortbus suggested forming Families for Astor, Barnes-Moorehead was enthusiastic. Barnes-Moorehead notes that local communities are extremely well placed to augment existing services and programs.

In an e-mail rallying mom volunteers, Kortbus reminded friends of the importance of acting locally on behalf of children. In asking for help, Kortbus pondered her own lack of knowledge about the residence – which is located immediately outside the bucolic village of Rhinebeck, in New York’s Hudson Valley region:

“As we walked the halls, I was pretty overwhelmed. Some of the stories were hard to hear but I was able there to see kids in classrooms, in the gym – smiling and laughing. I know how busy everyone is – trust me. I am just feeling at this stage of my life like this world feels so overwhelming. But, if we focus on our community and the good that can come from service to others, maybe we will feel a little less overwhelmed.”

The goal is to enable these children to experience and attain success – and ultimately to find placement in a family.

Barnes-Moorehead emphasizes the positive impact of an involved community to tell the story of an organization and to raise their local profile. Families for Astor has already planned a number of events including a theatrical reading by renowned actors and local residents.

“We need the community to help and to enhance what we provide. Because our kids deserve the best – and when they are in our care, they are our children.”

This post is the third in an occasional series I will be writing. The series will focus on the heroes among us – parents who engage challenge or adversity and take a stand. They are the unsung heroes in a pick up line. We all know them. Let’s celebrate them. Would you like to nominate someone? E-mail me at info@reconceivingloss.com.

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