Casey Family Services is renowned for taking on foster kids who've endured severe trauma, often abuse and neglect. It's an organization based on stability for children who weren't dealt the easiest hand in life. The foundation will close its doors this December.
"I think I was in shock. I think a lot of the families now are still in shock," Ada Puches said.
Puches and her husband, Mark Floegel, turned to Casey Family Services after discovering they couldn't have children of their own. They now have a 16-year-old foster daughter.
"These are children who have had a lot of different experiences. They're all individuals, but the one thing they have in common is that they've been let down by adults in their life," Floegel said.
The foundation isn't going out of business; it's changing its approach.
"Taking the funds that have funded or supported CFS and putting it into a grant package that will be available to other nonprofits throughout the country," said Nita Lescher, the Vermont director of Casey Family Services.
Which means Mark and Ada, along with 24 other Vermont families, will lose current services like medical funding and social workers.
"We now will take time away from our child to line up services and programs she had been doing for us, so ultimately all of the thefts are thefts from the children," Floegel said.
"I understand what it feels like," Lescher said. "It's hard for us, too, and people are in shock."
Lescher is one of 28 Vermonters who will lose her job when Casey Family Services closes in six months. The foundation employs 280 people in the Northeast and provides services to 400 children, each of whom faces an uncertain future.
"Yes, there will be a disruption in relationships for these kids and for them, but we aren't abandoning them without services," Lescher said.
Lescher says they're working closely with the state to make the transition as seamless as possible, by providing funding past December for families if necessary and facilitating a relationship with a similar foster care agency in each state. But parents say they feel Casey Family Services is backing out on a promise.
Puches said, "Many of us made commitments to these children based on the promises Casey Family Services were making to us, the families, to do this work and these services."
Lescher says nothing can be done to change the foundation's decision. But Floegel and Puches are collecting signatures, reaching out to the media and writing letters begging Casey Family Services to carry out their care with their current families.
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