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Family foster's care strategy covers from east to west

With a heightened awareness in North Carolina Baptist churches of the need for foster care families, Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) has developed an aggressive strategy to grow its Family Foster Care ministry. This awareness among Baptists opens doors to vital partnerships in recruiting, supporting and retaining foster care families.

“You will never see a billboard along the highway soliciting foster families for this ministry,” says BCH chief operating officer Keith Henry. “We believe the key to growing the Family Foster Care ministry is to recruit foster care families directly through our Baptist churches.”

The difference in how BCH’s foster care works, as compared to others, is through the established relationships BCH has with churches. The strategy is simple: recruit Christian families through Baptist churches.

BCH’s goal is to have 100 foster care families in communities across North Carolina in 2020 with the hope of having at least 100 children in care –– 100 families, 100 children. There are four service areas –– Western, West Central, East Central, and Eastern –– with recruiting and training offices in each area. BCH staff members are passionate about working closely with churches and are on target to meet the 2020 goal.

Currently, 11 staff members are in place with the plan to add an additional four. Offices are located on or near BCH locations and new offices are opening around the state. Recently, a new office was added at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham and there are plans for a staff person to be located at the headquarters of Christian Adoption Services in Matthews.

BCH seeks Christian couples who are actively involved in their local church. Foster families are more successful when they have the support of churches. Children in care not only become part of a loving family but become part of a larger, loving church family.

“Our focus is to not only recruit, but to keep families,” says Henry. “We believe Christian families who feel called to help children will be with us longer because of the difference they hope to make in a child’s life. Approximately 80% of the families who we recruit become part of our Family Foster Care ministry.”

Churches who embrace foster care families need to have strong pastor/leadership involvement. Churches that want to become part of this ministry will need to facilitate information meetings to garner church support and recruit families from the congregation.

Churches will also need to provide an ongoing recruiting emphasis amongst its membership and allow a place for training potential foster families.

Finally, churches will need to support families during the licensing process. Families need reassurance as they work to become foster families. They need to know that they are not alone.

There are also things a church can do after a family begins fostering children. Members can offer respite or provide resources for birthday and holiday celebrations.

There are couples who foster in hope of adopting. Fostering children is a good path to adoption. But not every child who may come into a family’s care is available for adoption. Baby adoption is often a preference, but the demand for baby adoption is high. Fostering children of all ages helps families see upclose how they can meet the needs of adolescent and teen children through adoption as well.

BCH provides strong support through both staff members and committed churches who come alongside foster families. Support is paramount to a foster family’s success. That success depends on our churches’ partnerships. Foster families need to feel they can count on BCH’s support team as well as pick up a phone and call their pastor and church members in times of need.

BCH’s Family Foster Care ministry provides the training and vital support needed for a family to become a successful, licensed foster home. Currently, BCH has trained nearly 40 married couples with almost as many children now living in those licensed BCH family foster homes.

Questions? Contact: Western Area - Bob McCleary at 828-627-9254; West Central Area - Danetta Christmas at 336-474-1238; East Central Area - Kay Burriss at 910-245-4034; and Eastern Area - Brian Baltzell at 252-522-0811.

Article is written by Jim Edminson, Charity & Children Editor

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