ABCHomes launches ministry to foster care community

Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries (ABCHomes) is expanding its ministry to link Arkansas Baptist churches with the vast needs of the foster care community.

ABCHomes is launching “Connected” foster care ministry to provide and/or mobilize resoureces needed to make foster care successful in Arkansas, while giving Baptist churches an opportunity to take an active role in ministry to foster care children, families and state foster care workers.

Beginning this summer, ABCHomes is piloting the “Connected” ministry among several churches in the North Pulaski Baptist Association (NPBA). ABCHomes leaders plan to later expand the Connected ministry in other Baptist Associations in the state.

The program will help establish a structure for the foster community; recruite, facilitate and provide training for foster families, in accordance with the Arkansas Division of Children and Families (DCFS); facilitate multi-church partnerships; and help improve the child welfaere system through the involvement of the local church.  

Hands-on support for foster families will be provided through local NPBA churches. Theses support services include: prepared meals for foster families upon arrival of foster child, babysitting, tutoring, respite care, transportation, food/clothing closets and school supplies. 

In addition, Connected will link partnering NPBA churches with DCFS Family Services Workers, offering support, encouragement and other needed services. Furtermore, assistance for birth families will also be obtainable through local churches.

“While many resources are available through Arkansas ministries to foster families, our state currently lacks a system for the coordination of resources,” says Derek Brown, ABCHomes Little Rock area director. “When the church plays a direct role in shaping the foster community through a vision of child welfare missions, a dramatic impact on the system can be expected. This impact includes increased longevity, decreased family stress and reduction of failed placements.”  

The need for such ministry is vast, stressed Brown.  According to DCFS reports, more than 4,000 children were in the Arkansas foster care system in October 2014. Only 1,168 foster homes with 2,768 beds were available in 2014, leaving 1,241 more children than available beds in foster homes. 

“This ministry is unique because we equip the local church to become purposefully connected so children in the foster system can become connected,” added Brown.

For more information on Connected, email connected@abchomes.org.

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