God created children to be in a loving family–a forever home. In Psalm 68:5–6 God calls Himself a Father to the fatherless and says that He sets the lonely into family. In James 1:27, it’s clear that God sees caring for the orphan as pure and faultless. And in Psalm 127:3, we’re told that children are a gift from the Lord—a reward from Him. Clearly, God values children!
Since God values children, so should we.
In the United States alone, there are over 500,000 children who are in foster care. Of them 140,000 are considered legal orphans and await their forever family. These children are extremely vulnerable. With God’s presence and help, we as the church can be the solution – one child at a time.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. -Hebrews 10:23
Rise up…Take courage and do it. –Ezra 10:4
Faithfully Trusting God
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1
Children are in foster care because of neglect, abuse, or abandonment. Their lives have been surrounded by brokenness. Foster Care is intended to be a temporary solution. The goal is for families of origin to work things out so that children can return to their homes. This means that many times foster families who’ve loved kids and poured into them don’t see the end fruit of their labor. They are much like the heroes of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11 – faithful servants who believe God is working in the lives of children and will continue to work even when they can’t see.
Standing Against Injustice
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. –Proverbs 31:8-9
Foster parents have the unique opportunity to be an advocate for children who cannot speak up for themselves. Because foster parents are responsible for children in their care 24/7, they often know the child’s situation better than anyone else does. Foster parents have the right and the responsibility to be that invaluable voice in courts where forever decisions are made.
Foster parents also can stand against injustice by protecting children from harm and neglect. We all know that kids need a lot more than just a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. All children need love, security, and a sense of belonging. Foster parents have the opportunity to be as Christ to children in need – to help children heal emotionally and physically, to assure them that they will be safe and cared for, to encourage their talents, hopes and dreams, and to share God’s wonderful love.
Laying Down Your Life
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. -John 15:13
No one said foster care was easy. It is about the hardest thing we’ll ever do. We will be s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d in ways we never thought possible, and we will rely on God like we’ve never had to before. The children we cry out for will make us weep; the ones we long to help heal will hurt us; the trauma they’ve been through will pierce our hearts. When we take in the lost and the broken, we become as Christ to them,
Foster care is not easy, cheap, or convenient – and neither was the cross.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. -Mark 10:45
Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ -Galatians 6:2
God sets the lonely in families – not in hotels
Right now in Gwinnett County there are 500+ children in foster care with only 50 foster homes. This means that children in their most vulnerable time have no where to go. So case workers stay with them – in extended stay motels.
Grace wants to be a part of setting foster children in loving families who are trained well, have support around them, and will point children to Jesus.
Visit http://www.uh4c.org/ and click onto FIRST STEPS for applications, forms, and requirements.
CERTIFICATION PROCESS for FOSTER FAMILIES and *RESPITE FAMILIES
Attend a Foster Care Info Session (Orientation) led by either DFCS or CPA (Certified Private Agency, such as Uniting Hope for Children.
This Info Session is the first step in becoming certified as a foster family. This is a required informational session that offers you the opportunity to explore whether becoming a foster or respite family is right for you. Come learn about the foster care crisis in Georgia and why vulnerable children are brought into foster care. There will be time for questions at the end of the presentation.
Initial paperwork submitted to DFCS or CPA (See FIRST STEPS on http://www.uh4c.org/)
You’ll also need the following: Infant/Child/Adult CPR & First Aid certification; Up-to-date physicals for everyone in the house including drug testing on everyone over age 18; All Children in home must have up-to-date vaccinations; Septic and water inspections
1st Home Visit by DFCS or CPA(This will be scheduled with you once paperwork is complete. A social worker will come to your home, meet with the family, and do an initial inspection).
Approval to move forward with IMPACT Class hosted by DFCS or CPA
Attend an IMPACT Class: IMPACT stands for Initial Interest, Mutual Selection, Pre-Service Training, Assessment, Continuing Development and Teamwork. This training helps potential foster families to make an informed decision about their desire to become foster or respite homes. In addition, parents receive training for how to deal with nurturing children who have been neglected and experienced trauma.
IMPACT consists of twenty one-hour modules covering the following broad topic areas: The Fostering/Adopting Process; Emotional/Cognitive and Behavioral Implications in Fostering/Adopting; Sexuality and Sexual Orientation; Communication and Partnership; and Identity and Cultural Issues.
2nd home visit (could be during or just after IMPACT Class completion)
Turn in all IMPACT Class paperwork to DFCS or CPA
3rd home visit (final home inspection)
Final approval (licensure) by DFCS or CPA
1st Placement of Child/ren
*Respite Foster Family
Respite families give foster families the extended breaks they need to remain healthy in their marriages an overall life. A fully certified foster family that takes in children for short periods of time while the basic foster family takes a much-needed break or travels without the foster children. Ideally, this respite family is in relationship with the children and the experience is much like going to an aunt or uncle for the weekend or a week or two.
Care Community: Volunteers become extended family to a foster family. This team of 4-8 volunteers who support a foster family by providing practical support like regular meals, tutoring, childcare, transportation, laundry, yard work, etc.
Care Community Volunteers:
Family Helper: usually provides one meal once a month on the same evening and week each month. Additionally, these volunteers can run errands, assist with housework, yard work, etc. to support the family.
Child Mentors: provides childcare or transportation 1-3 times per month as needed. This role requires the necessary background checks for the volunteer to be unsupervised with foster children. This is a unique opportunity to pour love and encouragement into these vulnerable children.
Team Leader: provides leadership for the Care Community. This volunteer contacts the foster family weekly and sends out a weekly email updating the team on prayer requests. This role can be uniquely filled or combined with any of the above roles.
Interim Caregiver: You would serve as an overnight caregiver in your home or in the foster home from one night to two weeks, according to the approval policy of the foster care agency. Additional background checks may be required, as well as a home safety inspection. Respite families also fall under this category.