“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
to care for orphans and widows in their distress.” -James 1:27
All children deserve to be safe, loved and nurtured. God designed the family as the primary source for children to experience this kind of care. However, there are a number of children in Wilbarger County and in our community who do not have the kind of family environment that they deserve.
Did you know that when children are abused, neglected or traumatized they may be taken from their family and placed into foster care to ensure their safety and wellbeing? Did you also know that there are kids of all ages, races, and sibling group sizes that have been separated from their extended family, school, church and all that is familiar because there are not enough families to care for them in their own community?
We strongly feel God’s call to care for the orphan and the widow, and we believe that these children should be able to remain connected to their story and should experience stability as soon as possible. First Baptist Church Vernon has partnered with Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services (PCHAS) to become a Mission 1:27 Church that is committed to raising up the voices of local children needing families. We are also a my faith FAMILY church, trained by PCHAS to build villages of support around foster and adoptive families.
Additionally, through our relationship and support of the agency, Jacqueline Bone, a PCHAS Case Manager, is able to office at our church and is available to answer questions and help our church family, and everyone in our community, as all of us consider God’s call to foster and adopt. You can reach her by phone at 940-227-4400, or you can email her at Jacqueline.Bone@pchas.org. She is eager to hear from you, and help in any way possible.
How It All Works
When Child Protective Services (CPS) identifies concerns, and a judge determines that it is not safe for a child to remain in their home, agencies like PCHAS are called upon to provide a safe and loving family for children through foster care. The children’s family will have about one year to work with the court to make their home and family environment safe so that they can be reunified with one another. During this year, the children are living with a foster family, going to church, participating in activities, and attending local schools.
While it’s never easy for a child to leave, foster families, our church family, and the PCHAS staff all celebrate when families are restored and children are able to return to their family. When this is not possible, we grieve that a family was not able to be safely reunified and that a child’s story will contain yet another loss. It’s only then that we begin to focus on other options, like adoption, to provide permanency for children.
Ways You Can Serve
Foster Families become family for children when they need one. Flexible foster families succeed at adding children into their family with God’s grace and guidance, and get to be on the front lines to see children grow and heal. Foster families receive training and support from the agency, financial assistance to off-set the expenses of caring for children and health insurance to cover the children’s medical expenses. The PCHAS team is available 24/7 to help families with any issues that arise. Foster families take children to their doctor’s appointments, interact with Case Managers who provide feedback to the court, and take children for supervised visitation with their birth family. These interactions become great opportunities for foster families to show respect and care for the whole family, and to learn more about the children and their family history.
If children are unable to be reunified and will become legally available for adoption, the foster family will almost always be the first considered. This is what is commonly referred to as “Foster to Adopt.”
Kinship Caregivers are related to children in CPS custody by family bond or a close family relationship. Keeping children connected to their story is a high priority and kinship caregivers are often able to provide this connection in the most natural way, so the courts try to move children into a kinship placement whenever possible. Additionally, kinship caregivers that complete the steps to become verified as a foster parent will be able to receive all of the same resources as foster families. If you’re a kinship caregiver, PCHAS would be happy to share about additional supports that they can offer to your family, at no cost.
To successfully provide the care that these children need, foster families need the support of their family, friends, church and community. You could help a foster family you know by becoming approved as a Babysitter. Or, if you want to take a step further, you could become approved as a Respite Provider in order to care for children for more extended periods of time. You can also consider bringing meals to a foster family, mowing their lawn, or providing some other support that blesses the family with a little more time in their day.
We believe that God has called each of us to do something. James 1:27 isn’t a suggestion of good things for some to consider, but instead a description of the fruit that we bear when Christ has changed our life. Out of the overflow of our hearts, we will serve others, regardless of what we may or may not receive in return.
Could you be family for children when they need one? Could you be a reliable supporter to help a foster family you know thrive? Could you find other meaningful ways to serve those that are caring for children? Jacqueline, right here in Vernon, and the rest of PCHAS’ foster care and adoption staff in Wichita Falls, would love to talk to you and answer every question you have.