After gathering research from over 40 foster care organizations around Alabama, Foster Coalition was established in March 2021 to unite local advocates of foster care to solve the crucial physical, emotional, and educational needs of the 5,000 to 10,000 children in foster care.
The following national foster statistics provide a motivational source to improve situations in the foster system:
3,000 for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates),4,000 long-term fosterparents, 98% more care support groups (foster, adoptive, and birth parents), 1,500 long-term mentors for aging out youth, 200 social workers for DHR (Department of Human Resources), an undetermined number of qualified trauma counselors, and volunteers for local organizations. Improvements in this area will increase the effectiveness of the foster system and meet many of the security, acceptance, and significance needs of children.
Currently, the foster parent turnover rate is 50%-100% per year, the DHR turnover rate is 47%, and CASA turnover rate, though undetermined, is high. Solving problems in this area will help provide security for children and increase productivity within the foster system.
Information about the services each advocate organization offers and how to tap into their services, intensive training for foster parents, adoptive parents, mentors, social workers, and CASA workers so that they’ll know how the foster system works and what they are getting into. Good education produces efficiency and effectiveness of the system and provides significance for the children.
Local foster advocate organizations, foster parents, mentors, DHR, the legal system, and churches need better communication with one another to help meet the needs of the children they serve. The image of the foster system and foster children needs to be more positive. We’ll have radio and TV appearances to share new developments, local needs, and current events. We’ll offer a centralized database of resource organizations with contacts, social media, a blog, and podcasts to keep all informed. Good communication increases the efficiency of the foster system and public awareness of its needs, and boosts the acceptance and significance of foster children.
Foster Coalition is best classified as a Catalyst Organization. It functions as an independent entity that helps local foster organizations, agencies, and ministries unite to provide effective collaborative services at a level above what they can accomplish working independently. Foster Coalition does not perform any of the united entity services. The results of a united community focused on a common goal with effective communication among themselves has historically improved the success rate between 30% and 50%, as documented in research performed by Stanford University: ssir.org/articles/entry/collective_impact.
Catalyzing organizations serve multiple other organizations and causes at one time. Contributing to them means that you’re contributing to multiple entities at one time. In supporting a catalyzer, you have opportunity to catapult a community of organizations into a stronger, more resilient space.
For more information, please read Perspectives and Insight: Three Reasons to Support a Catalyzing Organization from the National Christian Foundation.
We’re passionate about our work with foster families and the organizations that support them. Foster Coalition’s founders are active in outreach and personally understand the roadblocks families face in the foster care system and beyond. Their involvement in counseling both foster care families and youth who have experienced abuse has given them direct insight into community needs.
Paul Berry, Foster Coalition founder, is a retired financial planner and investment advisor with The Covenant Group, which he founded in 1988. Paul and his wife Robbie have three children and nine grandchildren. They were the founders of Safe Harbor ministry, which coaches parents of teenagers with rebellious behaviors such as drug abuse, eating disorders, self-cutting, deviant sexual behavior, anger, and violence.
Mike Ousley, Foster Coalition cofounder, is owner and president of Mike Ousley Productions. He has over thirty-seven years of experience in award-winning television production. Mike Ousley Productions is currently responsible for TV program production in several of the top fifty US markets. He is the only television producer to have twice won Billboard Magazine’s Music Video Show of the Year. Mike has strong ties through philanthropic work in Birmingham.
Andrew Howard – Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Select Specialty Hospital in Birmingham. Andrew has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Alabama and Master of Science in health administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He is a board-certified Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Mike Ousley – Foster Coalition cofounder and owner of Mike Ousley Productions. Mike also currently serves as board member of the Owens House and the Cornerstone Schools of Alabama, which provides high-quality education to inner-city children. He was previously a founder and director of the Music Video Association of America.
Angie Hoffman – Children’s Director of Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church and advisor to local Department of Human Resources (DHR). Angie has a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Augusta State University.
Cory Wilson – Senior Relationship Strategist, Senior Vice President of PNC’s Private Bank. He has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Alabama, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a double concentration in Finance and Investments from Auburn University
Andy Martin – President of Providence Partners and former President of First Protective Insurance Group. Andy also serves on the board of directors of Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the University of Alabama and Glenwood, Inc. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Birmingham Southern College.
Tony Cooper – Nonprofit Consultant and Pastor of Pineywood Baptist Church. Tony is former thirty-year executive director of The Jimmie Hale Mission, which grew from a single facility to 10 facilities around the Birmingham area and several thrift stores under his guidance. Tony is an Army vet with an undergraduate degree in theology and a master’s degree in counseling. He’s founding member of Alabama Rescue Services and Alabama Association of Christian Recovery Ministries. Tony is on advisory boards of Mission Increase Foundation, Movement Leadership Committee, and 2nd Half Committee of Young Business Leaders. He received 2019 BBJ Nonprofit CEO Award and the 2021 Medallion Award from Samford University.
Zack Miller – Vice President and Accounting Manager of ServisFirst Bank, former Senior Financial Analyst of USAA, former Vice President/Internal Audit Manager of BBVA, and former Assistant Vice President, Corporate Finance at Regions Bank. Zack is a CPA with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in finance from University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
Tavon Arrington – Personal Development Manager at Brasfield and Gorrie, Life Coach and former University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Football Team Chaplain and Campus Director, and area representative of the Fellowship of Christain Athletes. Tavon has an Associate of Arts in Religion, a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies, and a Master of Arts in Human Services.
Sally Beck – President and Investment Advisor of Representative of Beck Financial Group, and partner of Beck & Hill LLC, a full-service accounting firm. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration.
Tony Petelos – Past Commissioner of Alabama Department of Human Resources, two term Mayor of Hoover, former County Manager and CEO of Jefferson County. Tony has 34 years’ experience in public service and is one of central Alabama’s longest serving officials.
Samuel J. McLure – Adoption attorney and founder of The Adoption Law Firm in Montgomery. Sam and his wife Mary Beth were inspired to establish the firm during their son’s adoption process. He graduated from Huntington College and Faulkner School of Law, where he is a member of the Law Review and active with the Christian Legal Society.
Patti Smith – Former Shelby County Family Court Judge and Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justice. She served on the Juvenile Court bench for 25 years and worked with the Board of Education to develop the Alabama Developing Youth (DAY) Program and The Friends of the Court/Court Appointed Social Advocates Program. Patti also chaired Shelby County’s first Children’s Policy Council.
Dr. Jim Wright – Executive Director Emeritus of Childhaven, Inc. with a 27-year term. He served on boards of Cullman City Schools Foundation, Cullman Caring for Kids, and Family Life Missions. Jim was appointed to the Governor’s Data Oversight Committee for DHR and also served as president of Cullman County DHR Quality Assurance Committee.
Lee Kinnebrew – Vice President at Barber Companies, former director of Cornerstone Schools of Alabama which are private inner-city schools offering tuition assistance to low-income families, and of The Kings Ranch shelter and services for abandoned, neglected and abused youth.
Mike Schmitz – Current chairman of the Dothan City Board of Education, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Alabama, chairman of Alabama Sports & Adventure Hall of Fame, and former two term Mayor of Dothan. He has summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, hiked to the first base camp of Mt. Everest, swam from Alcatraz to the Golden Gate Bridge, and bicycled across the US to raise money for neglected and abused children.