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The Girl Scouts of Black Diamond and the Buckskin Council, Boy Scouts of America have teamed up to offer free programming for children in foster and kinship care as part of a Benedum Foundation grant.

This grant aims to build youth resiliency through character-building programs in partnership with the West Virginia Council of Churches for the West Virginia Foster, Adoptive and Kinship Parents Network.

“These groups are working together to serve foster/kinship youth with meaningful programming and adult role models,” said Beth Casey, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Black Diamond, in a media release.

Both groups are providing free membership to youth who are in foster or kinship care so they can benefit from the opportunities and resources.

“The Girl Scouting and Boy Scouting programs are providing structure and support to assist these children so they can become caring, productive adults,” said Jeffrey Purdy, Scout Executive at the Buckskin Council, BSA, in the release.

According to data from the federal Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System and the U.S. Census Bureau from 2017, West Virginia has the highest rate of children in foster care in the nation at 17.8 percent.

According to Children’s Home Society findings, those in foster care face difficulties: one in two children who age out will develop a substance dependence; one in four won’t graduate from high school or get a GED and seven in 10 girls who age out will become pregnant before age 21.

“These groups are looking to change that trajectory by coming together to provide resources that are already a part of the programming that Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts offer,” Casey said.

“The WV Foster Adoptive and Kinship Parents Network is excited to see organizations like the Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts working to serve youth in foster care and their caregivers. Over time, we hope to see this model expand to other organizations and opportunities for youth to develop positive relationships that will support them into adulthood,” West Virginia Foster Adoptive Kinship Parent Network Director Marissa Sanders said in the release.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has identified essential activities in serving children who have experienced trauma, such as those in the foster care system:

• Address the impact of trauma and subsequent changes in the child’s behavior, development, and relationships

• Support and promote positive and stable relationships in the child’s life

• Provide support and guidance to the child’s family and caregivers.

“This program is addressing the social and emotional needs of these children and providing opportunities to learn resiliency skills to mitigate trauma that they may have experienced,” said Kim Barber Tieman of the Benedum Foundation in the release.

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