Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Churches that care about foster care

Foster care advocates find allies in religion

By Kim Vo, San Mateo County Times, Dec. 29, 2006.

FOR SUSAN KAMMERER, sporting a T-shirt with the names of 100 foster children printed against the green cotton, the math is simple: There are about 500 children in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties who need a home and there are some 1,200 churches in the region.
If just one family from each church became a foster parent, the waiting list of children would vanish.

"We recruit through the Christian community," said Kammerer, executive director of Help One Child, a faith-based group that works with foster families. "We believe these people are called to help people in need."

The Los Altos nonprofit group has launched an ambitious initiative: to recruit 500 foster parents in 1,000 days.

The effort mirrors a national trend as child welfare agencies from California to Texas to North Carolina increasingly work with religious groups to recruit foster and adoptive parents among the faithful. Religious leaders say they are well-positioned to help foster children and their families. Worship houses are often located in neighborhoods and offer programs like after-school care, drug treatment and financial planning.

Plus, there's a long history of caring for others. After all, Joseph fostered Jesus. And the Pharaoh's daughter raised Moses after findinghim in the River Nile.

"The faith community is rich in its tradition of service, taking care of children and orphans," said Beverly Beasley Johnson, San Mateo County's new director of Human Services Agency. In
Kern County, where she previously worked, officials worked directly with Christians, Sikhs and Jews to help children, she said.

"I've never had a faith community say no to anything," she said. "They've always said yes." San Mateo County also recruits among the secular community, everywhere from PTA meetings to the county fair.

Kammerer, who raised the niece of a cancer-stricken friend, isn't expecting each family to adopt a child, but to give them a stable, supportive home until they're reunited with their own parents or are adopted by others. The Christian group is sending letters to pastors asking foster parents to talk with their fellow congregants and is publishing articles in church bulletins. The group held a rally with county officials in Redwood City last month and plans another in Santa Clara County this spring.

In a separate effort, Alameda County preachers, rabbis and American Indian leaders will go to houses of worship starting in January, asking congregants to consider becoming foster parents — or at least support those who do.

"If we don't care for our children, who will?" asked the Rev. Raymond Lankford, with the Alameda County's Faith Advisory Council. "Children shouldn't grow up in orphanages and institutions."

The sentiment, however, butts against the reality: Throughout the Bay Area, foster children outnumber the local foster homes able to take them in.

In San Mateo County, for instance, there are 457 foster kids, but only 74 foster homes, said Sharon Stone, the county's resource parent recruitment coordinator.

The remaining children live in group homes or private foster homes scattered from Santa Clara County to the Central and Sacramento valleys. The practice runs contrary to expert recommendations that living with families in their existing community is better for these children. It's hard enough being separated from their parents without leaving their school, friends and neighborhood, too.

The distance also hampers regular visits with biological parents, with whom the kids may ultimately be reunited.

In some areas, efforts to keep foster children in their respective communities got a boost in recent years from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the influential children's advocacy group. Among its recommendations was that agencies work with faith groups.

Whatever their own convictions, foster parents are instructed to respect children's religion. Stone says foster parents are encouraged to take the kids to the child's own house of worship, if possible.

That's often not workable, said Judi Van Elderen, a foster parent since 1987.

"If you tell a family they have to go to synagogue instead of their own church, that's not practical," the Los Altos Hills mother said. "That's not fair to your own family."

The Van Elderens have routinely brought foster children with them to Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, where they are members.

We've "always had a lot of people around us praying for us, praying for the kid. That's been a huge thing," said Van Elderen. "Through school-church community, we've gotten teachers involved in being baby sitters."

Van Elderen, and her husband, Dan, are part of Help One Child's recruitment campaign. The couple, who have six children — four biological and two adopted — plan to meet with fellow churchgoers who might be interested in foster care. They're also trying to start a church support program for foster parents, for instance having members available for occasional baby-sitting, so the work seems less daunting.

"It deters people. You don't know what you're stepping into. That's how our faith has helped us, we feel called," said Van Elderen.

Recently, members of Bostic's Bible-study group held a Christmas party for Jessica Artiles and her daughter, Anna, who Bostic cared for while Artiles was in a drug and alcohol treatment.
Bostic cradled another foster child — a baby boy, conceived by incest and abandoned after birth — while the women cooed over the chortling 10-month Anna.

Kay Huber remembered when Bostic brought Anna, then a rigid baby too small for her age, to Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. Members prayed over the child and "asked God to guide her life," Huber recalled.

Artiles still meets with Bostic regularly to get parenting advice or talk about Artiles' own progress in rebuilding her life.

"They're great people," she said of the Bostics. "They supported me even when I was in a program, and they did really good caring for my baby."

Contact Kim Vo at kvo@mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5719.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do agree with all the ideas you've presented to your post. They're
very convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too quick for novices.
May you please extend them a little from next time?
Thank you for the post.

My site; ski Vacation

4:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whoah this weblog is magnificent i like studying your articles.
Stay up the good work! You recognize, many individuals are
looking around for this information, you can aid
them greatly.

Here is my site alternative energy sources

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could definitely see your skills in the article you write.

The sector hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to mention how they believe.
All the time follow your heart.

Also visit my blog post ... after high school

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's really a great and useful piece of information. I'm glad that you just shared this useful
information with us. Please stay us up to date like this.
Thanks for sharing.

Review my blog post: ski Vacation

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all I would like to say terrific blog!
I had a quick question which I'd like to ask if you don't mind.
I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head
before writing. I've had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips? Many thanks!

Also visit my website; ski Vacation

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m not that much of a internet reader
to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up!
I'll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back down the road. Many thanks

Here is my weblog ... ski resorts

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks very interesting blog!

Review my web blog - online advertising

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks , I've recently been looking for information about this topic for a long time and yours is the best I've came upon so far.
But, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you sure in regards to the supply?

Stop by my page; after high school|

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your next write ups thank
you once again.

Also visit my web page :: after school nana|

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.

You clearly know what youre talking about,
why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving
us something informative to read?

My blog; after school care programs|

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whoah this weblog is excellent i like reading your posts.
Keep up the good work! You recognize, lots of
individuals are looking around for this information, you could help them greatly.

Also visit my weblog ... alternative energy source

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read some just right stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how so much attempt you place to create one of these fantastic informative website.

Here is my blog - what is after school program|

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for another great article. The place else could
anybody get that type of information in such an ideal way of writing?

I've a presentation next week, and I'm on the search for such info.

Feel free to surf to my website: ski holiday

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, yup this paragraph is genuinely good and I have learned lot
of things from it regarding blogging. thanks.

Feel free to surf to my weblog :: ski Vacation

3:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is really interesting, You're a very skilled blogger. I've
joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post.
Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks!

Also visit my weblog skiing holiday

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What i don't understood is in fact how you are not really a lot more smartly-liked than you might be right now. You're
very intelligent. You recognize thus significantly when it comes
to this topic, produced me in my view imagine it from numerous numerous angles.
Its like men and women aren't interested unless it's something to accomplish with Lady gaga!
Your own stuffs outstanding. At all times care for it up!

Feel free to visit my weblog :: ski resorts

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We absolutely love your blog and find most of your post's to be exactly I'm looking for.
Does one offer guest writers to write content
available for you? I wouldn't mind composing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write with regards to here. Again, awesome web log!

Take a look at my web page; ski package

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or tips. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I want to read even more things about it!

Feel free to surf to my web-site - ski Vacation

2:38 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home