The AOK Story
In December of 2015, AOK’s founder, Marianna Litovich had been a foster parent for seven years and had adopted two children through foster care. Seeing a dearth of opportunities to find and network with other foster or adoptive families, she started the “Pioneer Valley Foster and Adoptive Family Association” Facebook group. Within a few weeks, the group grew to more than 100 members, all foster or adoptive parents in the region. The private group allowed users to share stories, support, and information pertaining to foster children or adoption through foster care. Members voiced great appreciation for the ability to get to know one another and to receive both concrete and social support. The group held its first in-person gathering in August of 2016, where 66 individuals gathered for an afternoon of fun and community.
In meeting and talking with attending families, it became clear that the fostering community was isolated – not only from one another, but from the community at large. On the one hand, families involved in foster care tended not to know too many other foster or adoptive families, aside from those they had met by chance or through their MAPP classes (Massachusetts Approach to Partnership in Parenting; required for licensure as a foster or pre-adoptive parent in the state). These families felt in need of a community that understood the unique challenges of foster care. Additionally, families voiced frustration about the lack of awareness about the foster care system among the general public, the needs of children within it, and the experiences of families involved.
Combining her personal experiences as a foster and adoptive parent, and her professional experience as a community psychologist and researcher, Marianna launched an online needs assessment in January of 2017 to document the challenges of foster and adoptive parenting and members’ ideas for ways to ease those challenges.
All Our Kids, Inc. is the response to those needs – an organization that creates community for the purposes of mutual support, raises awareness about the foster care system in our region, and engages the community to become involved in a wide variety of ways. With a founding board of five individuals who are passionate about foster care, we have put together an ambitious plan for a program of services that meets the needs of our diverse community. And we have partnered with many local businesses and organizations to make this a truly collaborative endeavor. We hope you'll take the time to learn more about us.