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Kids to Love celebrates 18 years of service to children in foster care

Kids to Love celebrates 18 years of service to children in foster care this year. Its story, however, was set in motion long before that when Lee Marshall, Founder and CEO of Kids to Love, was born into foster care.

Lee was adopted when she was 2-years-old so she knows first-hand how a family can change a child’s life. Through her Kids to Love Foundation, Lee is carrying out her purpose to find forever families for foster children, and meeting their immediate needs while they wait to be adopted.

Since Lee founded Kids to Love in 2004, the organization has impacted the lives of more than 290,000 foster children.

Contributed/Lee Marshall

Kids to Love has experienced phenomenal yet purposeful growth in recent years, adding three core programs to its roster of services: Davidson Farms, a home for girls; a Child Placing Agency to license foster families, and KTECH, a workforce training initiative and private school. While Kids to Love operates more than 12 programs over the scope of its services, these three are an integral part of Kids to Love’s commitment to change the trajectory of foster care.

Davidson Farms is arguably the most recognizable piece of Kids to Love. “The Farm” as it is affectionately nicknamed, is home to girls ages 10-19. Since 2017, 23 girls have lived there. Davidson Farms is different from other group homes in that it is focused on creating a family, encouraging the girls’ social development through volunteer and extra-curricular activities and teaching them life skills.

The Cottage Community at Davidson Farms will be a pivotal component of their bridge to independence. Coming in the spring of 2022, The Cottage Community is the first of its kind to provide housing for foster youth aging out of care.  It is a critical need because statistics show many foster youth are homeless, in prison or dead within two years of aging out of the system. The Cottage Community will consist of 5 homes located close to the main house so our girls can remain under the guidance of the Kids to Love team of mentors.

​A newly licensed Child Placing Agency is another way Kids to Love is connecting children in foster care to loving homes. There are more than 5,000 children in foster care in Alabama and fewer than 1,500 licensed foster families. Kids to Love aims to bridge that wide gap by training and sustaining foster families.

The tragic reality is that the majority of children who are placed in foster care will not find a family and will age out of care alone. Kids to Love has a solution to help them live successfully. Lee’s vision and heart for teen-age foster children compelled her to create KTECH, a workforce training initiative.

KTECH trains students for jobs in the advanced manufacturing industry. The demand for workers in this field is so great it prompted Lee to open classes to not only foster youth but to anyone. KTECH offers certifications in Mechatronics, Robotics, Soldering and Solid Edge. In 2021, KTECH added VR (Virtual Reality) classes to its lineup. Launched in 2016, KTECH has awarded more than 250 certifications. KTECH is licensed as a private school and was named the 2021 Service Provider of the Year for the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association.

The overarching mission of Kids to Love is to meet the immediate needs of foster children, and there is a long list of programs that accomplish that goal. You can get involved and support many of them. Here are a few:

More than a Backpack- Each summer Kids to Love collects school supplies and backpacks so foster children can be prepared for a new school year. The program serves more than 5,000 students across three states each year. A list of school supplies needed can be found on the Kids to Love website.

Christmas for the Kids- Kids to Love provides Christmas gifts for foster children every December. You can sponsor a child’s entire wish list, pickup an ornament featuring just one gift, or purchase the most requested items listed, also on the Kids to Love website.

Click, Ship & Give- “More than a Backpack” and “Christmas for the Kids” are among Kids to Love’s “Click, Ship and Give” opportunities. “Click, Ship and Give” allows donors to purchase items online and have them shipped directly to Kids to Love. Other “Click, Ship and Give” lists include items needed for Davidson Farms and The Cottage Community.

Link to shop:

https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/28K8ZQ7S1VIU7/ref=hz_ls_biz_ex

With 290,000 foster children impacted by its work, Kids to Love’s focus on service is clear. The work by Lee and her team has garnered much recognition and many awards for the advocacy and care of foster children.

Kids to Love was most recently named Non-profit of the Year and Women-Owned Business of the year with the Huntsville – Madison County Chamber of Commerce. Lee has been recognized as an “Angel in Adoption” by Congress and honored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for her adoption awareness efforts. She has also been called one of the“Women Who Shape the State” and named Entrepreneur of the Year in Huntsville.

Kids to Love is a 501(c) non-profit organization. You can read more about their outreach at kidstolove.org and by following along on their social media channels.

(Courtesy of 256Today.com)

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