Heart Galleries of Texas
Heart Galleries of Texas Project Overview
The Heart Galleries of Texas project received funding in the 88th Legislative Session to expand the Heart Gallery program to all 11 regions in Texas. This allows the project to expand adoption efforts statewide to generate better outcomes for the hardest cases, finding homes for teens, sibling groups, and children with special healthcare needs. This project will also work with community partners and post-adopt service providers to ensure that families have the support and resources needed to reduce the number of children coming back into foster care.
Each day, more than 6,000 children in the Texas foster care system are waiting to be adopted and to find a place to call home. The Heart Gallery was born with the purpose of utilizing the power of photography to capture the individuality and dignity of children living in foster care, to advocate for their permanency, raise public awareness about their needs, and obtain support to help meet those needs.
Heart Gallery programs assist caseworkers in what many consider to be their hardest cases, finding homes for teens, sibling groups and children with special healthcare needs when parental rights have been terminated. Often these same populations of waiting children are also at the highest risk for staying in care for extended periods of time. When proper adoption recruitment supports aren’t in place, children and youth are left without placement and sleeping in unfit conditions like offices and hotels.
Taking Heart Gallery Statewide
Developing a statewide association of Heart Galleries will allow for the expansion of education and awareness around adoption recruitment. By joining together and speaking as one voice, we can be assured that everyone is working in partnership to generate better outcomes for Texas children through shared resources, successes, and best practices.
To successfully establish this statewide expansion there will need to be one Centralized Heart Gallery (CHG) lead team with the focus of organizing, establishing, and supporting the development of Heart Gallery programs within the (11) regions in Texas. This CHG effort will include one full-time Heart Galleries of Texas Director to oversee all efforts in three key phases:
- Identification: Engage local stakeholders and the Department of Family and Protective Services to determine the lead nonprofit organization in each community through input and a carefully vetted screening process for down-grant funding.
- Engagement: Help the lead organization coordinate the Heart Gallery launch to build community support and awareness. A strong local network is needed to recruit and mobilize volunteers to distribute Heart Gallery exhibits.
- Implementation: Share resources, best practices, and draft communications for each region to use to launch the Heart Gallery program.
- Post-Adopt Support: Work with the community partners and post-adopt service providers to ensure that families have the support and resources needed to reduce the number of children coming back into foster care.