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The Power of Saying Yes: How one Woman Re-defined Foster Care for Older Youth

Valerie Crabbe, founder of Being Beautiful Foundation, pictured with husband, Larry, at the 2023 Annual Pennsylvania Permanency Conference

By Erin Reilly, Regional Technical Assistant

Valerie Crabbe remembers having a dream to adopt a little girl since she was just a little girl herself. Fast forward to the age of 38 when a recruitment flyer for foster parents caught her attention in the grocery store. Valerie acknowledges that the commitment to be a foster parent far exceeded her initial expectations, but at the time, she eagerly jumped to complete the required trainings and documentation. Before she knew it, a little girl known as Angela (“Angie”) was placed into her home.

Valerie recounted her early foster parent experience as “tough” and “emotional” and admits she came close to quitting at times. She felt intimidated by this little girl who, as the result of ten failed placements, believed everyone would give up on her. Before Valerie had the chance to close her home, Angie asked her and her husband, Larry, to adopt her. “We adopted her, and everything got better,” Valerie recalled. Angie overcame the negative feelings that once consumed her and began to thrive with the unconditional love and support of her mother and father.

Angie was the catalyst for the creation of the Being Beautiful Foundation, opened by Valerie in 2013 to provide safe, secure and loving homes for children who have suffered from abuse or neglect and were placed in the foster care system. Shortly after Valerie and Larry adopted their second daughter, Odelia, Valerie shared that she was approached by Angie with the question, “would you do this again to help other girls?” Angie encouraged Valerie to open a group home so she could provide the love, acceptance, and consistency that changed Angie’s life to as many other girls as possible.

Humbled by Angie’s outlook, Valerie took time to visit several group homes and interact with youth in the community. She felt very connected and noted that the youth didn’t want to leave her. After one year and one difficult conversation with a woman at an event honoring survivors of human trafficking, Valerie committed to opening her own group home for girls so she could improve the lives and outcome of at-risk youth.

Being Beautiful Foundation is comprised of three residential homes located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania within top-rated neighborhoods and schools. Each home uses the “House Parent Model,” a unique approach that intertwines successful elements of foster parenting with congregate care. Valerie serves as the house mother for the primary residence alongside house mothers assigned to each of the other two homes. Larry serves as the only house father for all three homes, which are situated within a few minutes of each other. Each residence accommodates up to eight girls, typically between the ages of 13 and 16.

Being Beautiful Foundation strives to promote normalcy and consistency for the girls. “We want them to feel we would do for them what we would do for our own kids,” Valerie said. Each home operates the same and has identical schedules. Each home has a movie theatre in the basement for family movie nights as well as a salon for the girls to do their hair. The main house even has a pool to enjoy in the summertime! In addition, the girls each receive a monthly budget for their hair and nails.

Valerie has helped many girls reunify with their birth families, and some choose to stay until they are 21 years old under a board extension. No matter what, Valerie and Larry remain a permanent connection for all the youth they serve. Dinners, holiday breaks, or even just a phone call to share some good news, Valerie and Larry ensure the girls know they will always be in their corner.

I asked what inspired the foundation’s name, and Valerie explained it was Angie’s idea. She shared how Angie struggled with feeling ugly and insecure, and Valerie always talked with her about what true beauty is. “Angie was always reminded that beauty goes beyond just our physical appearance, and is about our personal character, integrity, and how caring, helpful, and honest we are,” Valerie stated. Angie suggested Being Beautiful as the name since she was always taught by Valerie that she is beautiful and wanted others to hear that same message. 

Valerie Crabbe was honored at the 2023 Pennsylvania Permanency Conference Recognition Banquet as a Permanency Advocate, highlighting the Being Beautiful Foundation and the programming that has positively impacted the lives of over 100 girls. When asked what the most rewarding part of this journey has been, Valerie responded with one word: “Angie.” Valerie shared how immensely proud and touched she is to see Angie’s dream come to fruition. “You can’t give up. Even when I felt that I couldn’t do it and it was too much, I couldn’t give up,” Valerie stated. “I appreciate (the challenges) so much now because otherwise I never would have met Angela,” Valerie concluded.


Published: Dec. 13, 2023

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board care Conference event family foster foster care older older youth permanency SWAN technical youth

Article Links

  1. Erin Reilly
  2. Advocacy Organization - Being Beautiful Foundation