TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — An advocacy group and a Terre Haute church have teamed up to help foster and adoptive parents.

Kristi Cundiff, founder and CEO of Indiana Foster & Adoptive Parents and Advocacy Group, on Tuesday helped show off a new clothes closet housed in the Northside Community United Methodist Church.

“Our goal here is to help foster families have everything they need. We know there are over 30,000 children in care right now in the state of Indiana. We know that there is not a lot of per diem per child, and foster parents, at least very few, get help with foster care,” Cundiff said.

“If a foster family gets an infant that needs to go to a day care and they get $25 to $35 a day, that is not going to meet the needs of their food, clothing, shelter, diapers and wipes and doesn’t really meet the needs of day care,” Cundiff said.

Rev. Clark Cowden, pastor of the church, said the organization contacted the church explaining the need.

“We took it to the board of the church and they decided to give it a try. We have a couple of parents in the church who are foster parents and are familiar with the need,” Cowden said. The church is donating the space for the clothes closet.

“A lot of kids just come with the clothes on their backs or a trash bag of clothes,” Cowden said. “This provides a needed resource, but we are also hoping that it can be a connecting point for parents who are looking for moral support and spiritual and mental support as they go through challenging situations and that parents will get to know each other as they come in and make use of the clothes closet,” Cowden said.

Indiana Foster & Adoptive Parents started as a closed Facebook group where foster and adoptive parents could network and get support. In October, the group was incorporated as a nonprofit organization, enabling donations.

Today, the group has 6,200 members statewide and can be found at fosterandadoptiveparents.org.

“We became a big voice in the state of Indiana for foster children and foster parents,” Cundiff said, adding it is the biggest group in the Midwest for foster and adoptive parents. “It has become more of a group of private citizens concerned about foster children and the support that they need,” she said.

The Region 8 clothes closet will cover Vigo, Vermillion, Clay, Sullivan and Parke counties for any foster or adoptive parent to get clothes, shoes, blankets, many of which are from Project Linus, and hygiene products. The closet is open Monday through Thursday and on Saturday.

“If we don’t have something here, like baby equipment, walker, jumpers, strollers, or car seats, because we are statewide, we can put a message out in our group that someone needs something and we can share it,” Cundiff said.

Elaine R. Boyll of Terre Haute was someone seeking a stroller on Tuesday.

“I am seeking a double stroller and they are so expensive,” Boyll said at the clothes closet. “I have bought them before, but they are $200 plus, and I have gone through three double strollers now. I have been a foster parent for about 17 years now.”

She was at the clothes closet with a 15 month-old-boy, which she took in when he was two weeks old.

“This is my 94th (foster) child,” Boyll said of the young boy. “I have had some two years until things work out. He is being adopted. He has five siblings and they are going to Mississippi. So now he has a mommy and daddy forever.”

Boyll said being a foster parent has many challenges, including clothing. “I keep a supply of clothes. But a lot of parents when they get these kids don’t have a lot of clothes. You don’t want the clothes (from) out of the home, sometimes, as can have bed bugs. I think this will be so helpful for everybody,” Boyll said.

Source: (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star, http://bit.ly/2BJjnEu

Information from: Tribune-Star, http://www.tribstar.com

This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by the (Terre Haute) Tribune Star.