Goddard Center offers opportunity for children in the foster program to get creative

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite
A display featuring information about the Oklahoma Fosters Program is on display inside the lobby at the Goddard Center Art Studio. The Goddard Center has partnered with the Foster Parent Exclusive Benefit Program for almost two years and offers free classes for foster children. From left to right: Goddard Center Executive Director Ken Bohannon, Oklahoma Child Welfare Specialist Holly Johnson, Goddard Center Art Studio Manager Joshua Tuaila.
Artwork by a child in the Oklahoma Fosters Program was on display in the Goddard Art Studio during the month of May in honor of National Foster Care Awareness Month.

The Month of May is National Foster Care Awareness Month, and as of May 2021, there are currently 7,489 children within the state of Oklahoma currently living in foster care. According to Holly Johnson, child welfare specialist with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, there are 203 foster children from Carter County, however over 72% of these children are placed in homes outside the county.

Johnson said COVID hit the foster care program hard, as the number of families willing to take in foster children dropped.

“I know that right now our numbers for foster homes have gone way down because of COVID,” Johnson said. “We had started getting in some more applications but then around the holidays when things got really bad those applications dropped way off. and they haven’t come back to numbers we saw before the pandemic.”

In addition to providing a child in need with a stable home, being a foster family also comes with some extra perks courtesy of the Foster Parent Exclusive Benefit Program. Through this program foster families can get discounts or free services from various businesses and organizations throughout the state. In Carter County, the Goddard Center is one of these organizations and they offer free art classes workshops and camp to children in the foster program.

Holly said the Goddard Center was one of the first places she reached out to in the area because it offers an activity for the children.

Joshua Tuaila, art studio manager, said taking the free art classes gives the children the opportunity to create.

“Just like with any kid, this is an opportunity for them to get creative outside of their school work,” Tuaila said. “Some of the schools around here don’t have any sort of formal art program, so this gives them an outlet for that creativity.”

Trualia said the program has seen about 10 students come through so far, but they are hoping to see more in the future.

“This is a great opportunity to see if we can get some of these foster families into the building and see everything that we have to offer,” he said. “That’s our whole mission, trying to spread art awareness within the community.”

For more information about Oklahoma Fosters visit www.OKFosters.org. There is also currently a display with brochures about the program as well as photographs of some of the children eligible for adoption in the lobby of the art studio at The Goddard Center.