Join us as we move towards vulnerable children and families, the essence of being a gritty disciple.
Orphan and foster care in America began as a Christian effort. In the early 1850s, a minister named Charles Loring Brace made efforts to help thousands of homeless children in New York City. He’s known as the father of the foster care movement, and went great lengths to place children in Christian families.
As Christians, we have a God who cares for orphans and for those who cannot help themselves (Ps. 68:5; James 1:27). Foster children are essentially orphans, some only temporarily, but the results can be tragic if they’re left to grow up in the system without a family. It’s estimated that 30 percent of homeless people were once in the U.S. foster care system. Having never learned how to attach to people or places, they struggle to find healthy relationships, to stay in school, and to hold down a job later in life. It has also been documented that 70 percent of foster youth dream of going to college, but only 3 percent actually make it despite the fact many states offer them free college tuition.
The need is enormous, but when you consider that there are roughly 348,067 evangelical churches in America, the 430,000 children-in-foster-care number doesn’t seem quite so daunting. Unfortunately, it’s not a problem that can be solved by simply doing the math and distributing children among churches. Many factors complicate the issue, but the numbers are still fascinating to consider.
The church can do something to help. While not all may be called to open a home to foster children, there are numerous ways to get involved and be part of the solution. Families can be blessed by a meal from a friend on a busy week of social worker visits, or by friends who took the time to get fingerprinted so they could be approved babysitters. Larger group homes may be in financial need to care for the children, or they may have a child in need of a tutor or a counselor. The needs are many and ongoing at every level of the foster care system. Who better to meet those needs than the church?
This is where Ridgedale and churches in the Chattanooga area come in. We want to provide wrap around foster care for families! “One of the top reasons foster parents terminate their home as a placement is a lack of social support. The church can support these families in tangible, emotional and spiritual ways. Whether you are a 10-year-old boy who can mow a lawn to help a father spend more time with the children he is fostering, or you are 80-years-old and can bake some muffins to drop on a family’s doorstep for breakfast, there is a role for everyone in the church.” (https://www.tn.gov/tnfosters/how-you-can-help/faith-communities.html)
If you’re a foster family looking for support and care, go here, https://www.cafaca.org/resources
Sign up here to be a volunteer and simply help care for foster families in the Chattanooga Area. Or if you have more questions, email Carrie Liddell at (email@example.com) or Ryan McBride at (firstname.lastname@example.org)
You can also contact our Community Relations Coordinator with TN Kids Belong, Emily Graffius, at (email@example.com)