Meet Butterfly Haven’s Founder
Maria A. Larsen is a paralegal, mom, and the executive director of Butterfly Haven. She has fostered many children and each one holds a special place in her heart.
Even before she began fostering, Maria was volunteering and helping families in need. She began providing relief and crisis care for children and families who had nowhere else to turn. Becoming a foster parent was a natural next step.
Since then, she has welcomed and cared for around 300 children. She is licensed with the State of Missouri, and contracted with multiple contract agencies.
Maria has experience providing care for children who are considered by agencies to have a variety of health or behavioral problems, as well as children in crisis situations. She knows first-hand how difficult it is to navigate governmental agencies and how imperative it is to receive assistance in certain cases where there is a medical or special need.
“Meeting these basic needs aren’t only a financial relief to foster parents, but it helps the parents be present and in the moment and focused on the children - not worrying about this or that.
Everything Butterfly Haven does is to make sure these kiddos receive the love and care they need and deserve.” —
Maria A. Larsen, Executive Director
Butterfly Haven was founded in 2006 as an outreach. Maria A. Larsen, founder and executive director, had been fostering children for about three years at the time.
On her journey as a foster mom, she quickly realized that foster families were on their own. A new child was introduced and then it was up to the foster family to make sure that child received all of the help he or she needed. This included recognizing needs, fulfilling those needs, and finding qualified professionals when needed.
For someone like her, who hadn’t been the sole caregiver for a child before, fostering a child with nontraditional needs meant navigating a whole new world without a roadmap or even a compass.
Maria began forming connections between herself and other foster families she met along the way. Exactly as she thought, she wasn’t the only foster parent who was wishing for a little support and direction. She began comparing notes and paying attention when a professional was recommended for a certain issue.
Soon, she had developed a list of foster-friendly professionals who had experience with children in foster care. She also began noticing that many of these children were having similar problems. So not only could she offer a referral, but she could offer experience-based advice.
The network of families grew until Maria decided it was time to give it a name. Butterfly Haven was born.
Maria began receiving donations of things like clothes, baby equipment, furniture, and other things that many of the children placed in foster care need in a hurry. From the beginning, she had prepared care bags for each child. Each bag contained age-appropriate items, such as coloring supplies and a stuffed animal for younger children, or a journal and toiletries for older children. To date, over 350 children have received a care bag from Butterfly Haven.
The organization has grown and now has several volunteers helping as well as items are donated for foster children in need. In 2015, Butterfly Haven, Inc. received its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.