Heart Gallery of Texas

Heart Galleries of Texas logo

By Odessa American

Published: April 23, 2024

One Accord for Kids is excited to launch the expansion of the Heart Gallery of West Texas. This expansion has been made possible through the generosity of the First Lady of Texas, the Governor’s Commission for Women, and efforts of our local community partners.

To celebrate the expansion and to recruit partners, One Accord for Kids hosted an expansion launch event on April 22 at the home of Melissa and John Dorman. Portraits of the children and youth were on display and remarks were given by the First Lady of Texas, Cecilia Abbott, and One Accord for Kids leadership.

“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.”

According to a news release, One Accord for Kids is a community development organization for the West Texas foster system and is committed to transforming lives in West Texas by strengthening families and connecting communities. Heart Gallery of West Texas was born out of the need, identified by our local community, to showcase West Texas foster children and youth waiting to be adopted right here in West Texas. With 60% of West Texas foster children and youth placed outside of West Texas it was clear that children waiting to be adopted needed more visibility to find their forever home. One Accord for Kids uses galleries placed in the community to draw interested families to an online gallery where they can read profiles, see more pictures, and inquire about children seeking adoption. One Accord for Kids also takes Heart Gallery kids on summer adventures, capturing video footage and interviews used in local news stories.

“Heart Gallery of West Texas is an excellent program. While we are recruiting to find a child or youth’s forever home we also get to have a lot of fun with them, which is what they need. I love that we get to see the community step up to help these kids find their forever home,” said Associate Director of One Accord for Kids Matt Waller.

“We were excited to launch the Heart Gallery of West Texas in 2021 at the request of our community. We are grateful to First Lady Abbott, the Texas Women’s Commission, and others who have expanded our reach locally and statewide through the Heart Gallery of Texas initiative,” said Executive Director of One Accord for Kids Brandon Logan.

From Heart Galleries of Texas

“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 must wait longer for adoptions, such as older youth, sibling groups and/or children with higher medical needs. Before this program, the only resource social workers had to advocate for these youth in their caseload was a grainy photo taken on their cell phone. Their chance of ever being adopted was often less than 1%. Research has now shown that when a robust Heart Gallery program is in place, the chance of adoption has surpassed 60%.”

“We are excited to support the Heart Gallery of West Texas,” said Kori Gough, Director of the Heart Galleries of Texas. “Midland and the West Texas communities have great champions 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 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.”

Source: Odessa American Online