States Increasingly Looking to Churches as Vital to Aiding Foster Youth

A few weeks ago, I spoke with a man who worked with the foster system in Maine.  He explained that the state government was making serious efforts to partner with churches to find caring homes for foster children.  Although Maine’s government was not known for being particularly welcoming to faith-based organizations in the past, a combination of budget challenges and growing awareness of the willingness of churches to engage was opening doors to partnerships the state hadn’t previously considered.

Tulsa’s News6 television last week reported similar news from Oklahoma.  The online version of the coverage is titled, DHS Asking Green County Churches for Help.  It begins, “Thousands of Oklahoma children need a home, but there aren’t enough beds to house them. So, The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is turning to the faith community to fill the gap.”  While Oklahoma has actively cultivated partnerships with faith-based groups for years, its new foster care initiative takes things to a new level of focused effort to find homes for children.

An article today in the Topeka Capital Journal reports that Kansas is seeking to head in the same direction.  Robert Siedlecki, Secretary of the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, is placing special emphasis on partnering with churches to find homes for kids in the state foster system.  As the article reports, “Siedlecki wants churches to partner with families adopting a child. Together, he said, a congregation could raise a challenging boy or girl who otherwise might remain in foster care until adulthood. There are 800 children on the state’s adoption treadmill.”

From Maine to Oklahoma to Kansas, something is stirring.   A combination of fiscal constraints and the visible engagement of churches in foster care is creating opportunities as never before for Christians to be the answer to the profound needs of the foster system.   Will we continue rising to the occasion?  Everything I’m seeing suggests we will!