Little Houses

What if, a group of mentors, who assisted children in temporary foster care or teens ages of 13-18 to develop life skills and socially adapt

Photo of Nellie Quarles
5 2

Written by

Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

I became a foster parent and later adoptive parent because I believe a child cannot raise themselves. They look to us as a mediator between them and the world. To understand the basic, everyday activities of socializing with others, feeling safe, and having a feeling of belonging; then projecting that into confidence, can make the difference in any child's life, both educationally and emotionally. Teens, who have a hard time being adopted often feel rejected and less stimulated to live fully.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian)


There is currently no website

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Indiana

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]


Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Indiana

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Gary, Merrillville, Hammond, and East Chicago

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

I have been an advocate for foster children and adoptive children. There is a stigma in our society about adopting children older than an infant. There are so many children who do not have guidance to function socially and emotionally because they feel that they have no one. I and other mentors would like to provide a stable, trusting relationship with children who need assistance in building a life and succeeding at whatever they dream of.

My solution to the problem of fostering children or adopting children, after they have reached adolescence, is to maintain an environment of continuous, conducive learning surrounding life skills, social involvement, and education.  By providing a network of caregivers, mentors, therapist, and tutors; provide an environment in which growth is secured by promoting self esteem, confidence, and knowledge concerning the world in which they live.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Other

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Child and Family Services

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Idea (poised to launch)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

I performed respite for a teen boy in social services, although misguided, he had a stigma of being ADHD with Mood disorder. His foster mom continuously criticized everything he did and expected him to be like her son. When he came to our home, he interacted with our family and we made him feel as if he were a part of us. Soon after meeting him and performing respite a couple of times, I found out he had been placed in another foster home. Last summer I spoke for the "Heart Gallery" at a function; I found out that he was still in the system and unadopted. he is almost 18 and has been from place to place. I want all of the children to know, " You are wanted and can make a difference in this world." "You have a connection and a home"

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Currently this is just an idea that I would like to facilitate after graduating from Walden University with my Phd in Health Sciences. I am currently beginning my work towards a dissertation.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $500k - $1m

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

I plan to engage a grant writer and learn from them about creating an influx of revenue to support this plan. With the Department of Social services and President Obama's reinvestment act, we should be able to connect with the city's being serviced for additional revenue and support.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

This problem is being addressed by the Indiana Department of Child and Family services, benchmark, White's and other agencies that promote foster parenting and adoption. However, sense I was a foster parent and know the system, there are portions lacking. The biggest part is "permanency", along with socialization, and focus on mentoring and education. My children were formally in an orphanage and in that setting, especially with sibling groups, bonding and "familial" attachment is difficult due to split placement. Children learn different things, good and bad, from their placements.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Children need to know that there is someone or some place they can depend upon. Just because they turn 18 or 21, that does not mean, you're on your own or alone. There is a chance for feeling a part of a bigger group, which promotes "self esteem' and "independence". Social learning and a sense of belonging are needed, especially in the case of older children, not being adopted. Sibling groups will definitely have a chance to bond a create a "family." With these tools, children will learn to cope, thrive, and become productive.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 33.3%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 33.3%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 0%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 33.3%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 0%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 33.3%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 0%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 33.3%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 33.3%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 0%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 0%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 66.7%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 33.3%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 0%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 0%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 66.7%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 33.3%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 50%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 50%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 50%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 0%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 100%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 50%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Nellie Quarles

Thank you Christy, I really appreciate the information and begin to inquire.  I do have contacts in Indianapolis.  I have tried to talk with workers in the system here in my city but no one wants to overstep the others boundaries. One is strictly foster care, another is strictly adoption.  There is no in between.

Photo of Christy Beighe-Byrne

This is really just an idea at this point. What the author is proposing is a whole system change within the Department of Children and Family Services. Several states offer very comprehensive services to older youth in foster care; however, it sounds like Indiana may not have these services in place. I would recommend that this author do some research on other state's approach to this issue and work with the stakeholders in her state to advocate for money to be allocated to more resources for older youth in foster care.

Photo of Melanie Gilbert

Hi Nellie,

I was nodding my head and saying, "Yes!" and "Uh-huh" while reading your Changemaker Challenge. From one foster-adopt mom ( to another, I say "Right on!"

Your vision of mentoring foster youth is slowly being realized in places like Baltimore, MD through the Thread program (, Youth Villages's YVLifeSet ( and, of course, the wonderful 76,000 citizen volunteer CASAs who serve more than 250,000 at risk kids annually.

But more support is always needed for kids in care - especially in Indiana -  and I applaud your Little Houses idea.


Photo of Nellie Quarles

I just need to know where to start and how to build upon my dream.  I'm not a website builder, although one of my older children could get me going, but, I have a desire to meet the needs of the children who need me.  I wish I could take all of the children in need, especially the sibling groups who are often separated.  They need to build a bond for the future; and the only way to do that is to keep them together!

Photo of Melanie Gilbert

Hi there, Nellie:

Web design has become way more user friendly thanks to templates and wizard-like guides. You don't have to be a web builder, anymore. Your kids can probably help you set up a website through any one of the programs below.

I use a variety of web design services, but my favorite is Squarespace which I use for my twitter-based foster care work. It cost $12 a month for hosting and support.

I use Google+ for my writing found at That service is free if you have a gmail account, but it's a clunky, dated and confounding program. I plan on migrating that work over to another Squarespace account.

Finally, I paid a professional web designer to build my GoDaddy-hosted account of Hosting costs $130 a year but comes with free email accounts tied to the main domain. Web design costs vary based on your content.

Lots of people use I don't have experience with that platform, but it gets the job done.

Ashoka is running a Twitter chat tonight at 8 p.m. under the childrenswellbeing hashtag. What web program people use to present their ideas is an excellent question. I'm sure you'll get more helpful feedback.


PS: I agree with you about sibling bonds. My kids were separated the night of their removal from their little brother. He was placed and adopted by another family. We had no say in the matter. Their judge, his court-appointed attorney and social worker all advocated for separation. It's heartbreaking. The good news is that we have an excellent relationship with his adoptive mom, and have worked out a "custody" arrangement. He stays with us all summer and we trade holidays. Not perfect, but pretty close to perfect. Arrangement has allowed all of the kids to heal from their guilt and grief.