Church Ministry Essentials

Module 6:

The Holistic Continuum of Care

Churches can often default into a “silo” of disconnected ministries. However, in this module you will explore how many justice, mercy and hospitality-oriented ministries are on some level interconnected — all part of the same continuum – and how to most effectively address them at different intersecting points.

In this module, we will explore the following topics:

Systemic Issues of Marginalization

Addressing the Whole Story of Child and Family Welfare

Strategically Planning at Different Points of the Continuum

Forming Partnerships for Effectiveness and Sustainability

Module Resources

Below is a curated collection of some of the best resources on engaging the holistic continuum of care. These resources are intended to serve you, not overwhelm you. Do not feel the pressure to work through all of them, but use them in a way that best helps you grow. For some modules it might mean plowing through them all, for others it might mean focusing on just a few!



Engaging the "River" of Child and Family Welfare

A Q&A session with Amber Knowles, Director of The Riverside Project in Houston, TX and Gabe Forsyth, Pastor of Mission at Mosaic Church in Orlando, FL.

Watch as Amber and Gabe talk through the different dynamics of addressing the “river” through prevention, intervention and restoration efforts.

Addressing Systemic Issues that Help Keep Families Together

An interview with Jeff and Frances Chaisson, Executive Directors of Salty Family Services in Miami, FL.

Be inspired by the strategic work Salty Family Services is doing to address systemic issues and build support under individuals and families – to help keep them out of the “river.”


A Tale of Two Rivers

Exploring the role of relationships to break the cycle of children and families struggling with systemic issues.

The Good in Goodbye

Exploring the most painful yet promising aspect of fostering – returning a child to a healthy and restored family.

Foster care children at risk for sex-trafficking recruitment

A very large percentage of trafficking victims have come directly from the foster care system. This is a downstream problem we must solve upstream.

The Upstream Solution

A parable about a man who recognized a systemic problem and used his gifts and passions to help solve it.


Aging Out and Finding Connection

The Foster Movement Podcast

“I had to figure out a lot of things on my own. I tell people at times I feel like Google was my advisor or mentor, support person, because I didn’t have that one stable person there that I could always talk to.”
Jessica Francis, Former Foster Youth

Changing Society by Changing Foster Care

The Foster Movement Podcast

We had the opportunity to sit down with two former foster youth who grew up together in a group home, Jimmy Cisneros and Jacob Mendez. Jimmy and Jacob share about their foster care experiences and the commitment they had to break the cycle that existed within each of their own families.

Collaborating to Bring 1 Million Children Home

The Think Orphan Podcast

Why institutional care is so prevalent and how we can transition to family-based care.

The Good in Goodbye

The Forgotten Podcast

The ideal outcome of foster care is for children to go home to restored, healthy and safe families – forever. It’s impossible to truly engage in the mission of fostering without considering the conditions that led to the need for fostering in the first place and identifying ways to bring healing, support and systemic change in the future.

Articles + PDFs

Developing a Holistic Orphan Care Ministry in Your Church

Not only is it essential for churches to establish a holistic message which communicates to their people that we’re not all called to do the same thing but we’re all certainly capable of doing something (read HERE), it’s equally important for them to develop a holistic strategic approach to how they are engaging in the child and family welfare continuum – from Prevention to Intervention to Restoration – in a balanced and sustainable way.

Breaking the Cycle of Human Traficking

Though trafficking is a global problem, it ultimately boils down to brokenness in local communities. According to experts, nine times out of 10 there is some form of trafficking going on in any given community.

Why Family Preservation Services that Prevent Foster Care are Key to Healthy Communities

Traditionally, resources are available to families who have had their children placed in foster care, but very few resources are available to strengthen families and prevent foster care. By preventing removals of children from their homes, children and families can avoid the often damaging effects of long-term involvement in the child welfare system.

The Other Side of Foster Care

In the end, perhaps the call of the Church is not just to foster kids but also to help prevent them from ever becoming foster kids in the first place.

Everyone Can Do Something

Chapter 6, "Using the Existing" Section

Churches tend to default into a “silo” of ministries – “That’s the missions ministry over there,” and “That’s the homeless ministry over there,” and “That’s the orphan care ministry over there,” etc. In reality, however, many of these justice, mercy and hospitality-oriented ministries are not mutually exclusive. They are on some level interconnected – all part of the same child and family welfare continuum intersecting at different points along the way.

Action Guides and Exercises


Engaging the Holistic Continuum of Care

Using the existing ministry platforms in your church and strategically addressing the “river” with good partnerships.


Plot the "River" for Your Ministry

River Assignment: Plot the various ministries your church is currently involved in at their corresponding place along the river model. Identify partners you work with (or future partners you need to work with) who are doing work in your community at different points of the continuum. Identify where you are strong and what areas you may need to grow in.

Use the simple mock-up provided here or your own draft to visually lay out what your engagement along the “river” looks like.

Resource Spotlight

Our team at CAFO has found this book to be incredibly helpful as we think about looking at “upstream” problems that are creating so many of the downstream issues we’re all working together to address in child and family welfare.

So often in life, we get stuck in a cycle of response. We put out fires. We deal with emergencies. We stay downstream, handling one problem after another, but we never make our way upstream to fix the systems that caused the problems. Cops chase robbers, doctors treat patients with chronic illnesses, and call-center reps address customer complaints. But many crimes, chronic illnesses, and customer complaints are preventable. So why do our efforts skew so heavily toward reaction rather than prevention?

Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen

Upstream delivers practical solutions for preventing problems rather than reacting to them. How many problems in our lives and in society are we tolerating simply because we’ve forgotten that we can fix them? There are SO many principles in this book that apply to our work of caring for vulnerable children and families, and going “upstream” to prevent many of the systemic problems from occurring that, with a little bit of work, might just be solvable before they ever become problems.

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