Step UP MN Encourages Communities To Come Together To Help Children Thrive
In 2016, two moms came together with a singular mission: to ensure that children in Minnesota have the opportunities and support systems to thrive. The founding members of Step UP MN visited Brainerd today to speak with the community about how our area can “step up” to better our children’s futures.
In Minnesota alone, there are over 6,000 homeless youth and 9,900 kids in foster care.
“I think really once people learn about the kids and the needs that they have, people really want to step up and really want to do something. We just needed to bring awareness to the community that those kids are in the community and they need help,” said Julie Overbye Ledy, Step UP MN organizer.
This gave founders Lisa Welter and Julie Ledy an idea that there has to be a different way to approach this problem.
“We created the Step UP MN campaign. We’re coming into communities just educating them about what’s happening in the community and then inviting them to step up and be a part of it,” explained Overbye.
They started by to creating a model that encompasses the entire spectrum of human and child welfare. They took this idea, of churches, businesses, and the community coming together to come up with ways to alleviate the foster care system, and started it in Anoka County.
“There is an initiative to prevent long term foster care. Faith-based institutions can step up and take children into their homes for short-term foster periods, thus keeping them out of the longer term foster care cycle,” explained Step UP MN volunteer Laurie Prem.
The model in Anoka County has shown great results. This prompted Step UP to see if they could recreate it its success in other communities across Minnesota.
“We have some prevention models where we would ask churches to step up and be host families to foster children. We’re also looking for foster families, adoptive families. People can then get involved with organizations like ours and be a volunteer,” Overbye added.
Welter and Ledy emphasize that anyone can make a difference, no matter how big or small.
“Not everyone’s called to be an adoptive parent or foster parent, but there’s so many ways we can support those folks who are,” Prem said. “We can really reduce the amount of suffering that these kids are going through by just having some more collaboration through the community, through various entities and individuals and helping these kids get through these tough times.”
Step UP MN will be hosting a free, online webinar on Tuesday, April 30th for those who were unable to attend the presentation. To register, visit stepupmn.org.