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Hutton Settlement goes to great lengths


to keep families together, something that is not usually an option in a foster care system. Seventy percent of children in foster care have siblings, and most of the time they are separated; Hutton Settlement is one of the few places where siblings can stay together. While the children are at Hutton, they


live in one of four large homes situated on the 319 acres of land on which the settlement is built. Each home currently has up to eight children and is under the care of house parents whose full time job is living in the house and taking care of the small family that is cultivated within the walls. That means gathering around a dinner table together for meals, working together to run the house, and living, laughing and loving as a family unit. For Shaun and Liz Smith, who have been


house parents in one the girls’ houses for almost two years, serving in this role was an answer to a call to do something to help children in need. “We met in South Africa while working


with an orphan care organization, so this was something in our hearts from before we met,” says Liz Smith of their decision to live and work at Hutton Settlement. “Since that time, we have married and held normal jobs and we have been open to having children, but none have come our way. We have always talked over the years about returning to Africa to work in orphan care, or opening our home to foster children, or adopting. When we learned about Hutton Settlement, we were excited that we could devote ourselves full-time to caring for children in need right here in Spokane.” Many of the children who come to Hutton


Settlement struggle with a deep sense of loss, grief and insecurity, due to the events and family dynamics they have experienced in their short years. One of the goals of Hutton Settlement is to create a home environment where the children feel wanted and loved, “because that is their deepest area of need,” says Smith. House parents help the children deal with


photo by David Crary House parents make time for family activities, like reading to the girls who live in their house


their grief and sense of loss by filling the role that parents usually play: being the people children can trust and a shoulder on which they can cry. Through helping them with homework, working on projects and chores together, and encouraging them in extra-curricular activities, house parents help Hutton children to continue to move forward in life despite their pain and loss.


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