Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Heart Gallery of Southeast Texas launched

HEART GALLERY OF SOUTHEAST TEXAS LAUNCHES WITH SUPPORT FROM HOUSE SPEAKER AND FIRST LADY OF TEXAS TO IMPROVE OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN WANTING TO BE ADOPTED FROM FOSTER CARE

AUSTIN, Texas – Heart Galleries of Texas is pleased to announce the launch of its newest affiliate, Heart Gallery of Southeast Texas, serving children wanting to be adopted in the Beaumont and east Texas communities.

Heart Gallery of Southeast Texas was launched on May 15, 2024, with the support of local attorney and child welfare advocate Kim Phelan; her husband, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan; and the First Lady of Texas, Cecilia Abbott. With the launch of the Heart Gallery of Southeast Texas, there is now an operating Heart Gallery in all 11 child welfare regions in Texas for the first time ever.

Heart Gallery programs use exhibits, portraits and media to introduce communities to children in foster care who want to be adopted. Heart Gallery programs especially seek to facilitate connections with potential adoptive families for children who typically have to wait longer for adoptions, such as older youth, sibling groups and/or children with higher medical needs. Heart Galleries also raise awareness about adoption and foster care by encouraging communities to help children and families.

"Through my work in the Beaumont child welfare community, I have seen many children waiting for families where they can feel safe, loved and accepted," said Kim Phelan. "I am proud to have helped bring this Heart Gallery to Beaumont because it is a tool we can use to help connect children to families who are interested in adoption. Heart Galleries also spark conversations that raise awareness about how our community can help both foster families and families formed by adoption."

"We are excited to support the Heart Gallery of Southeast Texas," said Kori Gough, director of the Heart Galleries of Texas. "Beaumont and east Texas communities have great champions like Kim Phelan who understand the needs of children in this community. We are excited to bring a Heart Gallery to the community to help tell the stories of children waiting for adoption and reduce the numbers of children in foster care."

Heart Gallery programs play a critical role in helping youth in foster care connect with potential families, especially at the local level. The expansion is supported by funding from the Texas Legislature to increase the number of programs and consistency between programs.

The Heart Galleries of Texas is housed within the Moritz Center for Societal Impact at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work in collaboration with the Texas Center for Child and Family Studies. The Texas Women's Commission, Office of the Speaker and Office of the First Lady have been strong supporters of the expansion of Heart Gallery programs.

"We were inspired by the success of the heart gallery model in central Texas and set out to replicate its achievements statewide," said Nathali Parker Weisman, chair of the Texas Women's Commission. "Today, we are thrilled to see how quickly this milestone was reached with programs now established in every corner of the state."

"The Heart Galleries of Texas is dedicated to enhancing communication with local foster care professionals, a crucial step in the ongoing commitment to improve adoption outcomes," said Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott. "We look forward to the lasting positive impact on adoption outcomes for children and families across the state."

 

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