The Problem Facing Fostering
In 2016, Lifeline was only able to place 19% of our foster care referrals in 2016 because we did not have enough licensed families.
A lack of licensed families creates a scenario in which the number of children sleeping at the DHR office or in overcrowded residential homes is sobering. Furthermore, with not enough foster families, children can often be placed out of their county of residence, which makes engagement with birth families difficult.
With the goal of foster care being reunification with the birth family appropriate relationships with birth families are beneficial for everyone involved. At Lifeline, our hearts have been burdened for the birth families that have not had a relationship with those who deeply love and care for their children. With few gospel-centered foster families, the healing hope of the gospel has been limited to a few children and families.
In summary, the problem we are facing is that we have far too few licensed families who are ministers of the gospel.
A Solution for Foster Care
Foster care needs more families who are called by Christ to be ministers of reconciliation and who are well-equipped to navigate the journey of foster care.
What is Lifeline Doing?
Lifeline has made some transitions in its foster care ministry to partner with DHR in a way that will allow us to truly impact the foster care system as a whole. Lifeline will now partner with DHR to recruit foster families from within local churches by providing training and the home study portfolio. The result will enable Lifeline to bridge the gap between local churches and the state as we focus on targeted recruiting, training, conducting home studies, post-placement training, and equipping churches to provide support.
This transition will also enable Lifeline to equip more families. Lifeline will be able to support all foster families in the system through continuing education units (CEUs). After families have children in their home, CEUs will give further training and education on how to handle behaviors of children from hard places; how to deal with the many unknowns of foster care; how to minister well to birth families; and other education needs as specified by foster families.
In addition, we have added an educational component through our Families Count program, guiding parents in biblical instruction for parenting. Alabama and South Carolina’s child welfare systems have noted how the foster families from Lifeline are truly unique—a testament to the work of Christ in our families’ homes and hearts.
How Can You Be a Part of the Solution?
Below is a list of ways that you, your small group, or your church could get involved with (un)adopted:
- Host an informational meeting about foster care at your church.
- Sign up for foster care training to become a foster parent.
- Complete foster care training to become a respite family.
- If you live in Kansas, become a Safe Families for Children safe family.
- Check out this blog for other tips on engaging in foster care and supporting foster families.