When the Dog is Here, Everything Changes: The Church and its Potential Impact on Child Welfare

Last week, as I was leaving the CAFO2016 Summit in Orlando, it became apparent upon arriving at the airport that things were backed up. The wait at the ticket counters was substantial and security lines were long. As we all shuffled through the rope lines at security, I encountered something I had not come across before in an airport security line:  An agent was leading a dog back and forth across the edges of the rope line and he (the dog, not the agent) was sniffing each of us. I didn’t think too much about it.

When we got near the front of the line, I started hearing instructions that I am NOT used to in an airport:

“Keep your shoes on.

“Keep your computers in your bags.”

It was obvious that they were trying to make things go faster, but the question going through all of our minds in line was, “Is this safe?”

The thought no sooner entered my mind than the TSA agent making the announcements said this:

“When the dog is here, everything changes.”

With those words, it all became clear. The simple presence of the dog made all of these other cumbersome mechanical time-consuming activities completely unnecessary.  The next thought that came to mind is “Wow, let’s invest in some more dogs!”

Last week’s Summit was a great reminder of what the church can and should be in the world of orphan care and child welfare. There were people there from all over the world whose churches are changing things in significant ways for children and families in their communities. It’s not that the church is being heroic and saving the day. It’s simply that the church in these places is back to humbly doing the job it was originally commanded by Jesus to do:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”   – Matthew 5:14-16

When the Church is finding families for kids, rallying around birth parents, loving on child welfare professionals, meeting needs as soon as they arise, and caring for children who have no one to care for them, it is acting in accordance with its true character – what it was always meant to be: the light of the world.

More and more we want it to be said in child welfare that, “when the church is here, everything changes.”

So, what would that look like in your community?

  • What if every waiting child in your county had their very own church-based team of 6-8 people whose job it was to do everything it could to support that child and find them a family?
  • What if every worker in your county was hearing from a church member monthly with a word of encouragement, a simple text that says “I’m praying for you today” or an invitation to lunch?
  • What if your church became the best available option for birth parent training and support?
  • What if every social worker in your county knew that their best chance of finding a foster care placement for a child coming into care was calling the churches in your community?

These kinds of things are happening in other counties across the country.  Yours could be next.

This post originally appeared in our Foster Roster e-newsletter which is delivered each Friday. We try to keep it short and sweet and fill it with practical articles, videos, blog posts and other tools for leaders like you working to help kids and families in foster care.  To sign up, go to http://bit.ly/1rwn6eO.