In the News: Discovery Center Launches Foster Care Program
In response to community need, Discovery Access expands to serve children in foster care in Shawnee County.
On any given day in Shawnee County, about 644 children are in out-of-home placement with about 300 families providing support, including foster care services. These children, who have experienced abuse, neglect and uncertainty, need play. Play is a powerful tool to help reduce toxic stress and help children and families heal. The Discovery Center, in support of the foster care provider KVC Kansas (KVC), is launching a program to serve children in foster care in Shawnee County.
Anonymous donors have provided funding for a four part initiative to serve these children, starting this summer. The project includes:
- Foster Family Memberships: 150 Foster families in Shawnee County will qualify for free family memberships. These memberships will cover their changing family size and allow a guest.
- Camps: Special, half-day camps just for children served by KVC will let children explore STEAM concepts, meet other children and have fun.
- Foster Family Free Concert: A one-night event to bring local foster families together to celebrate, meet other families and enjoy a free meal with live music.
- Crisis Sensory Kits: Boxes of curated sensory experiences designed for children transitioning between home and foster care.
The foster care program is the latest in a series of community-based play programs from the Discovery Center. Shortly after closing the building in March, museum staff called and emailed thousands of local families to find out about their needs and responded with online activity videos and learning kit deliveries. Activities helped families use play to explore science, technology, engineering, art and math. Discovery at Home online videos were viewed over 400,000 times, and nearly 3,000 learning kits were distributed. Ten Discovery Play Spaces, bilingual, educational vinyl installations, were installed at local parks in Topeka. Museum programs have specifically targeted low-income and underserved children, out of concern for learning gaps created by limited access to educational resources for many families during the pandemic.
These projects are a continuation of existing access programs at the museum. More than one in ten Discovery Center admissions are free or donor subsidized. In 2019, these admissions included over 1,000 Museums for All visitors from families receiving TANF or WIC, and over 5,000 field trip visitors from schools with a high percentage of children receiving free or reduced cost lunches.
The Discovery Center is a hands-on children’s museum with a mission to enhance the lives of children and enrich the communities it serves. Since opening in 2011 in Topeka, Kansas, the Discovery Center has become a special place where children can explore, create, discover and learn through play. The museum features over 15,000 square feet of indoor exhibits and a 4.5 acre certified Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom. Outreach programs bring quality, hands-on experiences into our community to inspire a lifelong love of learning for every child. More than 700,000 visitors from 23 countries have visited the Discovery Center. The museum’s outdoor area is currently open to the public for timed, ticketed entry. The inside of the building remains closed. Learn more at www.kansasdiscovery.org.
KVC Kansas is a private, nonprofit organization that works on behalf of the Kansas Department for Children and Families as the foster care case management provider for Shawnee County and surrounding communities. KVC Kansas strengthens families, prevents child abuse and neglect, and helps children and adults achieve mental health wellness. KVC also supports more Kansas foster and adoptive families than any other agency. Learn how you can help children and families as a foster parent, adoptive parent, donor or volunteer at www.kvckansas.org.
Media Coverage of this Story
CapFed Best News: Kansas Children's Discovery Center partners with KVC Kansas to launch foster family initiative
Brianna Childers, Topeka Capital-Journal
Kansas Children Discovery Center is working with KVC to launch Foster Care Program
Reina Flores, WIBW