National Foster Care Initiative Symposium

The NFCI Symposium this week was nothing short of amazing – one of the most encouraging and purposeful events I’ve attended in years.

It was a vivid experience in itself and, best of all, it will ultimately provide an arsenal of advocacy and training video resources.

Hosted at in Oklahoma City, the Symposium captured talks from more than 40 foster care experts, government officials, organization and church leaders and foster care alumni.

The day was designed essentially as a 9-hour video shoot, capturing short TED-style talks that will be lightly edited and then provided to churches and organizations across the country at no cost as tools for advocacy and education.

The feeling in the room with the 150-person live studio audience was not just enthusiasm. It was movement.

Gathered in the studio were leaders from across the nation: from Washington State to Washington, DC…Chicago to Houston, southern California to southern Florida. Together, they provided strong evidence of a true groundswell — a huge array of diverse church-based efforts to serve children in foster care and their families.

Many attendees and speakers came from respected and innovative organizations.  But on that day, all labored together for a vision larger than any one organization could achieve alone.  Oklahoma’s 111 Project played a major role in making the event possible, joined by contributions from many, many others from across the country.  Photo from NFCI Symposium

Listening to speaker after speaker, one couldn’t help believing that the goal of the National Foster Care Initiative – “More than enough” in 10 years – is indeed achievable.

It’s not simply wishful thinking to both pray and work for a day when the U.S. Church is the source of:

  • More than enough caring foster families for every child in care;
  • More than enough adoptive families for every waiting child;
  • More than enough help for biological families seeking to reunify;
  • More than enough local church support for all of the families.

The collection of videos created from the event will provide a wide array of short-but-substantive presentations on many of the most important issues encountered as a church or family engages the foster system.

These ranged from:

  • The former Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia addressing principles for effective church-government partnerships;
  •’s Amy Groeschel on the church as a place of hospitality for hurting children;
  • Dr. Karyn Purvis on effects of trauma and key elements of healing relationships with wounded children;
  • T. Ortiz Walker Pettigrew sharing her own experience being trafficking as a foster youth, and the importance of Church engagement with foster youth to prevent others from experiencing the same.
  • Marketing creative Jason Locy on keeping foster care from becoming a church justice “fad”;
  • Sandra Stanley on North Point Church’s commitment to pairing every foster family with a highly-engaged respite care family – and her and Andy’s experience in filling that role.

Editing on the videos will begin soon. For now, we can celebrate all the growing movement that the Symposium revealed. The road ahead certainly will carry at least as many difficult moments as successes. But momentum is strong and growing toward the day when there is indeed more than enough…