DFCS alone can’t help all troubled kids

Today is Orphan Sunday, an international day of recognition where churches stand up for children with no family. I can say, without a doubt, that foster children are the orphans of today’s society. Many come from dysfunctional homes and, in some cases, current welfare systems fail them as well. Instead of laying blame, we need to work together to make sure every child has a healthy, stable family.

We can’t expect government to bear the full responsibility of caring for hurting children and their families. Government was never meant to be a parent or serve as a de facto family member. The Division of Family and Children’s Services and juvenile courts can’t do it alone. They need the help of local communities, churches and families.

As a minister at First Baptist Church Woodstock, I manage the church’s foster care partnership with FaithBridge Foster Care. This community-based, foster care program recruits, trains and supports churches and their members who want to serve as foster parents and as volunteers in support of foster families.

In the past five years, our church family has placed 104 foster children in loving homes; 15 of those children were later adopted by their foster families. And each of those foster and adoptive families has been surrounded by a support network of volunteers and other services such as babysitting, meals, scouting, homework assistance, parents’ night out and life skills assistance to the family of origin.

Ours is a collaborative program that pairs government resources with community-based ones. Local churches are established in every community and are willing to minister to families, foster children and those who foster them. This is already being done at places such as First Baptist, and we need more churches and communities to step up and stand in the gap.

There isn’t a person who has volunteered as a foster parent or support member at our church who has not seen aiding foster children and their birth families as the ultimate service opportunity. Giving back to our community is a true testament to our faith — to care for the orphan and the widow.