Nonprofits share priorities for lawmakers in Austin

KBTX Brazos Valley This Morning(Recurring)
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 1:09 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Like city leaders and business owners, some local nonprofits have a list of priorities for lawmakers to assess while in the 88th legislative session. Both Voices for Children and BCS Together work to address the needs of the hundreds of children in foster care in the Brazos Valley and surrounding areas. Leadership from the two organizations said funding is at the top of their lists.

Amy Faulkner, the Voices for Children executive director, said continued funding for the Health and Human Services Commission is important. This program helps with essentials like food and healthcare.

The VFC team would also like to see continued funding for the Victims of Crime Act grant, which supports families and victims, along with the Finding Family and Collaborative Family Engagement programs through Child Protective Services.

“We would support any priorities that would promote family preservation, that promote additional services,” Faulkner said. “Again, mental health resources, substance abuse treatment, all of those things that again help strengthen families and keep families together.”

On March 1, VFC team members and volunteers will meet with lawmakers in Austin for CASA Day at the Capitol.

BCS Together has partnered with Representatives Kyle Kacal and John Raney to work toward getting needed appropriations and funds for people in kinship care. Lauren Falcone, BCS Together’s director of community partnerships, said kinship families don’t receive the stipends that traditional foster care families do.

“Unfortunately, kinship care is one of the least supported things in the state,” Falcone said.

For example, a grandmother taking in biological grandchildren wouldn’t receive state funds for them, no matter her financial situation.

”We are so excited to work with our state representatives in our area, and they’re gonna be proposing legislation that will help get appropriate funds so these kids can stay out of foster care and can stay with a safe family member,” Falcone said.

KBTX Brazos Valley This Morning(Recurring)

Along with working with lawmakers, both organizations have continued to heavily impact the community with their own initiatives. Voices for Children had over 400 volunteers last year who gave nearly 10,000 service hours. Faulkner said volunteers also drove over 88,000 miles to assist children.

BCS Together served 1,459 kids through their closet in 2022 and gave 38 a warm place to stay at the organization’s Haven home. The organization also gave away 148 car seats, which is one of its most requested items.

Both organizations also have a lot of events coming up that help further their mission. BCS Together is kicking off the year with its Brave Love event Feb. 24, where foster, adoptive and kinship parents can enjoy a meal and have a night of fun with games, prizes and more. Details can be found here.

Voices for Children is hosting its Change a Child’s Story Gala March 4. This is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year. Tickets and sponsorship information can be found here.