Who We Are

Our History

The Starting Strong Programs began with Fostering Further. Fostering Further launched informally in 2012 as the inspired idea of a foster and adoptive parent, Valerie Smith. Confident in knowing that her family was then complete, she wanted to find ways to continue to support the foster care community in Licking County. The initial goal of Fostering Further was to raise funds in order to be able to grant “wishes” to youth in foster care. These wishes consisted of activities and events that most children have the opportunity to experience but due to their cost, may be out of reach for many foster children such as dance lessons, sports teams, school trips, etc.

Over time, the vision for supporting the foster community grew and in 2015, Fostering Further became organized as an official 501©3 organization. Since that time, Fostering Further has developed several programs and events to further support the foster community. The “Grant A Wish” Program remains the flagship program of Fostering Further. 

Our History

Fostering Further also provides support to foster families by partnering with local churches to host “Parent’s Night Out” throughout the year. They support five local foster agencies by showing appreciation for their difficult jobs by offering Appreciation Breakfasts for case workers and fulfilling needs for case workers such as car seats and supplies. They have also partnered with a local church that provides space for an Emergency Pantry that is filled with donated children’s clothes, diapers and wipes, baby formula and toys.

In 2018, Fostering Further began partnering with Licking County Job and Family Services to mentor young people who were aging out of foster care. The mentoring relationships exposed Fostering Further to the many overwhelming challenges that emancipating foster youth face and inspired the board of Fostering Further to launch the Starting Strong programs in 2019. These programs are designed specifically to support youth as they navigate the challenges of transitioning from foster care into their adult lives.

Our Team

Yvonne Williams

Program Director

Val Bishop

On-Site Mentor

George Antrim

Maintenance Director

Our Advisory Committee

Amber Carson

Chris & Sue Cherney

Tiffany Davis

Patty Werner

Violet Queen

Michael O'Brien

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