Home Away from Home Program at KC Pet Project Aims to Keep More Families Together

home away from home kcpp

Organization Seeking Foster Families to Help Care for Owned Pets in the Community

Kansas City, MO, March 23, 2021 – KC Pet Project recently launched their Home Away from Home crisis fostering program to help pet owners in Kansas City, MO, who need assistance and temporary care for their pets. This unique program is part of the organization’s Keep ‘Em Together, KC initiative to keep families and their pets together.

Keep ‘Em Together, KC program aims to help keep pet families together in times of crisis and financial hardship by building community partnerships and expanding services to help address the systemic roots of resource inequity in Kansas City, Missouri. In the past month, KC Pet Project hired two new social workers who will be providing support to this program and our new Home Away from Home crisis fostering program to help give time to those who may be experiencing times of crisis that include evictions, domestic violence, rehabilitation, hospitalization, or loss of housing to be able to keep their pets. Previously, owners would come to the shelter as their last resort, feeling like the only thing that they could do is to give up their beloved pet. Now, thanks to the Home Away from Home Program, KC Pet Project can match up pets with temporary foster families in the metro and give owners time that they need to be able to keep their pets.

KC Pet Project is one of just 18 animal shelters selected to participate in the Arizona State University & Virginia Tech Maddie’s Nationwide Fostering Study, thanks to Maddie’s Fund®, a national foundation established by Dave and Cheryl Duffield to revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals. As part of the study, shelters receive extensive training on how to successfully implement and manage safety net fostering along with programmatic support for shelter staff that are directly aid pet-owning families that are experiencing hardship. Together with the research team, KC Pet Project will collect data about their Home Away from Home program, learning more about the needs of our pet-owning community and contributing to innovative, evidence-based practices in animal sheltering that are keeping people and their pets together.

Currently, there are 17 pet families enrolled in this program. Kansas City, MO, pet families who are in need of this program can apply for assistance directly with KC Pet Project for up to 4 pets. New applicants, if approved, can receive 30-days of crisis care through safety net fosters and additional program extensions if they qualify.  All applications are reviewed using a needs assessment in correlation to the capacity to provide care for the animals through available foster homes. Once enrolled, pet owners sign a contract and work with the Keep ‘Em Together, KC team to schedule their pet’s entrance into the Home Away from Home program.

Our Keep ‘Em Together Case Managers perform weekly check-ins with owners to see how they’re doing, give them updates on their pet(s), coordinate any updates between the foster and the owner, and connected them to other community resources if they need them. There are no costs associated with this program for the pet owner, and the Home Away from Home program is supported through donations to the Keep ‘Em Together, KC fund. KC Pet Project also provides any medical support to the pet if needed during its stay with a foster family. Pet families in need of these services can apply for the program may sign up here.

KC Pet Project is actively seeking foster families to support this program and the pets enrolled in it. The Home Away from Home program is only made possible through the generosity of our foster network and available foster homes. Safety net fostering for pet owners experiencing crisis, is an incredible way to directly support the current needs of the Kansas City, MO, community. Fosters must sign a specialized addendum and there is a heightened level of confidentiality affiliated with participating in the program. Foster families receive weekly check-ins with the KC Pet Project team to ensure they are supported in their safety net fostering experience. The shelter also provides all the necessary supplies for the foster care of the pets and commitments range from 30-90 days. In most cases, owners of the pets and the foster families are kept confidential and do not communicate with each other.  All communication and program coordination is conducted by KC Pet Project. Interested families and individuals who would like to foster as part of this program may sign up at https://kcpetproject.org/homeawayfromhomefoster/.

The Home Away from Home program is a critical resource for the pet families in our community. Pets are part of the family – while there are resources for people in crisis, there are not readily accessible opportunities for pets to be included in the plan for overcoming housing insecurity. The need for crisis care programs isn’t an isolated issue to Kansas City, MO, pet owners. With the ongoing eviction crisis and financial impacts of COVID-19, the need for more programs like Home Away from Home are felt across the nation. Through this program we hope to continue to illustrate that a home is not defined by a roof and four walls. Home is where your family is – human and animal family members alike. We hope to continue to support the human-animal bond, remove barriers to pet ownership and companionship, and offer proactive solutions to pet owners that need our help the most.

Pet owners who qualify to apply for the program may do so at this link. Any questions about the program can be directed to [email protected].