Ennis Center for Children is helping local youth in foster care find their forever homes

FLINT, Michigan — November is National Adoption Month which was established to bring more awareness to adoption issues and highlight the importance of youth engagement. A local organization that's doing its part to help spread awareness about adoption and foster care is the Ennis Center for Children.

Located in Flint and other locations around Michigan, the center was founded in 1978 by Robert Ennis, who is the current president of the center. Being raised without his parents, Ennis knew he wanted to make a career out of helping children and families. “I knew I would work with kids and families, I had no idea it would be foster care,” said Ennis, “The Center has been my life and ministry.” 

Before opening Ennis Center for Children, he worked with youth, developed halfway houses, and did work keeping teens out of youth detention centers. The center focuses on fostering youth, adoption with an emphasis on kids with special needs, and programs to keep families together.

“Giving a kid a forever home is so important, and not just babies, but kids up to 17,” Ennis said. 

Every child deserves to have a family, and the program can only support them until they turn 18. Those who foster and adopt in the community are doing a tough, but extremely important job. “Adopted parents and foster parents are the staples of our program. We can only take in so many kids and we want these kids to be with families.”

The Ennis Center for Children's wall displays a vibrant mural of children and sunflowers, created by artist Emily Ding.A newer program at Ennis is called FACT: Families and Children Together. The program is aimed to keep children with their parents using the services available. They aim to help the parents with their needs in order to help the children and, if feasible, they will be able to keep the family together. 

“We want to keep kids in their homes and with their families, so they won’t need to be put into the foster care system,” Ennis said, “We want to work ourselves out of a job.”

In Flint, the center is working on making sure all the services available are being communicated to those who need them. Ennis said the services are all there, but they are not connected as they should be. They are soon hoping to work with Genesee County agencies to make the services run more smoothly in this area.

Ennis Center for Children also has programs like mental health counseling and fostering creativity, an Art Therapy program. “We found that music and art help the children. We’ve had children go into the music program who would start singing before ever talking,” Ennis said. Art therapy has been highly researched to help children and has benefited the foster system at Ennis.

With the holiday season around the corner, people in the community can donate presents or items like backpacks. People can also sponsor a child or make donations to help. You can also donate to the Ennis Holiday Parties where the children can have a nice holiday dinner, crafts, a gift bag, and a visit with Santa.

To make donations or find more information about Ennis Center for Children, visit: enniscenter.org

Read more articles by Megan Speaks.