ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. — An Anne Arundel County barber is stepping up in a big way and filling a need by providing free haircuts for kids in foster or adoptive care.
Robert Cradle, who is the founder of Rob’s Barbershop Community Foundation, said haircuts can sometimes be a financial barrier for many foster parents.
“The stipend that parents typically get for their children won’t cover grooming,” he said. “You have to come out of pocket. That’s a barrier within itself.”
Cradle will give these kids free haircuts through the end of the year at Rivals Barbershop in Odenton.
He said a haircut can go long way for their self-esteem as many of them have suffered hardship throughout their lives.
“We need to build their self-esteem back up. It’s so vital for them. For school, socially, [and] psychologically,” he said. “I mean they need it man and it starts with the way you look.”
The initiative is a part of a program he created earlier this year. Cradle has been teaching foster parents how to groom and cut their kids hair themselves.
Vanessa Thompson is one of the many parents who benefited from the program. She’s the foster parent of two young boys.
She said she can see the change in their behavior since she learned how to cut their hair.
“You can see the difference. The confidence,” she said. “It’s powerful.”
Thompson said she’s extremely happy Cradle is expanding the program, which will allow her to bring them to the barbershop.
“It’s one thing for me to do it, it’s another thing to feel this. This is an experience in and of itself,” she said.
She believes it will be beneficial for other foster parents and their kids.
“This is some place to take them and not feel different,” she said. “So, the whole perspective of being a foster parent is to make it a whole and having those parents having to bring them here. I’m going to be spreading the word like you couldn’t believe it.”
For more information about the program, you can visit the organization’s website here.