What Can Churches Do to Help AGAPE of N.C.?

By Jordan Upton

One of the greatest assets AGAPE of N.C. has at our disposal is the support and friendship of local churches in our community. The encouragement, volunteer time, and donations received from local, state, and nation-wide partners are invaluable resources that help AGAPE of N.C. provide the greatest possible care in fostering, adoption, and counseling services.

If you are new to AGAPE and are wondering how you and your church can help further our mission, here are a few easy ways you can help be an advocate.

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Donations

AGAPE is grateful for any and all monetary donations that support our continued programs. Gifts may be made online or via check. For more information on donations, please seehttps://www.agapeofnc.org/donate/.

Shopping Through AmazonSmile

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Normalize the Idea of Fostering and Adoption

There’s a joke about newlyweds constantly being asked by family when they’re going to have kids. It’s played out on television and movies, even in best-selling novels. When these conversations happen in real life, you have the opportunity to discuss alternative family planning. Fostering or adopting isn’t the first idea that comes to most minds when planning for children, but with open, honest conversations, the ideas can be more normalized in today’s society. A better understanding of and a more accepting attitude toward fostering and adopting will benefit those in the system.

Encourage Fostering

Talk to your friends, family, and fellow church members about fostering. Explain how children in crisis could benefit from a stable, nurturing, secure, Christian environment. Encourage others to explore the option of providing comfort and care to children in need.

Volunteering

AGAPE welcomes volunteers who wish to share their skills and passions with us. We hope to create a valuable experience that will benefit both the volunteer and our organization. Please check our list of current volunteer opportunities here: https://www.agapeofnc.org/opportunities/. If you don’t see a role that fits you, please contact AGAPE’s administrative assistant Kaye Orander at 919-673-7816 or korander@agapeofnc.org to express your interest in volunteering and to discuss how you can become part of our mission to serve the children of North Carolina.

Support Those Who Foster

Ask how you can be there for current foster parents: physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually. Monetary donations to AGAPE support our foster parents, but you can be their advocate in other ways too. You could be a shoulder to lean on or a compassionate, listening ear. Pray for the foster parents and their families. Refer them to AGAPE if you feel they need more professional support than you can provide.

Help Spread the Word About AGAPE

The more people who know about our organization, the more people we are potentially able to help. Sharing our blog posts, liking our Instagram posts, following our newsletter, and liking and sharing our Facebook updates will allow us to reach a wider audience. You never know who may see a post you share and how it may affect them. Your sharing could indirectly lead someone to AGAPE to become a donor, volunteer, or foster parent! Spreading the word about AGAPE will help bring awareness to our mission and garner more support of it.

Fostering That Became Adopting

By Jordan Upton

On May 11th, the Friday before Mother’s Day, ABC Evening News with David Muir chose to spotlight the Peters family as their ‘Persons of the Week’. Sharis and her husband, Thomas, wanted children but due to fertility issues they were unable to conceive. Faced with expensive fertility treatments, the couple instead sought other avenues in order to fulfill their desire for children. This led the couple to begin fostering in 2010. Sharis and Thomas were contacted about siblings Miles, 3 years old, and Jasmine, 5 month old. After bringing Miles and Jasmine home, the couple fell in love with the children, and 10 months later, the Peters received another call from their social worker that baby Jade, Miles and Jasmine’s sister, had been born. Baby Jade was the exclamation point to this happy couple’s fostering story. Sharis and Thomas have officially adopted all of the children who are now 11, 8, and 7.

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"Being a foster parent and becoming an adoptive parent has meant everything to me," she said. "There's nothing else I'd rather be doing with my life." Sharis says. She goes on to describe the overwhelming joy she has felt on this journey beginning with fostering and ending with the adoption of her children. Sharis advocates for the importance of fostering, not only for the joy that those who foster feel, but more importantly the need for these children to receive the love and care they deserve.

"You don't have to be perfect to be a foster parent. You don't have to be perfect to be an adoptive parent. You don't have to be rich. You don't have to own your own home. You don't have to be perfect," she said. "You just have to be able to love somebody and accept their love. That's all you really need to do."

AGAPE of North Carolina helps create happy endings just like this with our foster care services, adoption services, and counseling services. If you are interested in enriching your life as well as changing a child’s life in an extraordinary way, are interested in helping promote the AGAPE mission, or want to donate to the organization, please visit www.agapeofnc.org.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/couple-ad...

FAMILY FIRST PREVENTION SERVICES ACT

HISTORIC REFORMS TO CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM WILL IMPROVE OUTCOMES FOR CHILDREN

By the Children’s Defense Fund

On February 9, 2018, President Trump signed into law the landmark bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act, as part of Division E in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892). Family First includes long-overdue historic reforms to help keep children safely with their families and avoid the traumatic experience of entering foster care, emphasizes the importance of children growing up in families and helps ensure children are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting appropriate to their special needs when foster care is needed. Family First builds on the original version of the bill passed in the House of Representatives in June 2016 (H.R.5456).

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In 2016, more than 437,000 children were in foster care. After years of decline, the number of children in foster care has risen steadily since 2012, with anecdotal evidence and expert opinion linking this increase to the parallel rise in opioid addiction and overdoses. Family First provides struggling and overburdened child welfare agencies with the tools needed to help children and families in crisis, including families struggling with the opioid epidemic.

The Family First Prevention Services Act redirects federal funds to provide services to keep children safely with their families and out of foster care, and when foster care is needed allows federal reimbursement for care in family-based settings and certain residential treatment programs for children with emotional and behavioral disturbance requiring special treatment.

Family First Includes

Federal investments in prevention for children at risk of foster care. The act provides federal funds under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, beginning in FY2020, to support evidence-based prevention efforts for 1) mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services and 2) in-home parent skill-based services. The services may be provided for not more than 12 months for children who are at imminent risk of entering foster care, their parents and relatives to assist the children, and pregnant or parenting teens.

Federal funds targeted for children in foster family home, or in qualified residential treatment programs, or other special settings. Federal funding is limited to children in family foster homes, qualified residential treatment programs, and special treatment settings for pregnant or parenting teens, youth 18 and over preparing to transition from foster care to adulthood, and youth who have been found to be—or are at risk of becoming —sex trafficking victims. The act requires timely assessments and periodic reviews of children with special needs who are placed in qualified residential treatment programs to ensure their continued need for such care. After FY2020 (unless the state opts to delay until 2022), Title IV-E reimbursement will be provided only for administrative costs for children in other group care settings, and not for room and board.

The new dollars for preventing children from entering foster care and restricting federal funds for group care take effect in FY2020 (or states may choose to delay until no later than 2022) so states can make necessary accommodations. The act recognizes adjustments will be needed to establish prevention services to keep children safely in families and in care that meet their special treatment needs. States have flexibility in defining the safety services they provide to children and families, and how they will ensure quality residential treatment for children with emotional and behavioral needs.

Additional investments to keep children safely with families

  • Offers additional support for relative caregivers by providing federal funds for evidence-based Kinship Navigator programs that link relative caregivers to a broad range of services and supports to help children remain safely with them, and requiring states to document how their foster care licensing standards accommodate relative caregivers.
  • Allows Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program funds to be used for unlimited family reunification services for children in foster care and an additional 15 months of family reunification services for children once they return home.
  • Extends for five years the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program, including the Court Improvement Program grants.
  • Requires states to have statewide plans to track and prevent child maltreatment fatalities.
  • Establishes a competitive grant program to support the recruitment and retention of high quality foster families to help place more children in these homes, with special attention to states and tribes with the highest percentage of children in non-family settings.

Helps address opioids and other substance abuse

  • Reauthorizes and updates the Regional Partnership Grant program, which funds state and regional grantees seeking to provide evidence-based services to prevent child maltreatment related to substance abuse as an important step in addressing the recent spike in requests to child welfare systems due to opioids and other drugs.

Supports youth transitioning from care

Extends the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program’s independent living services to assist former foster youth up to age 23 (currently available to youth between ages 18-21) and extends eligibility for education and training vouchers for these youth to age 26 (currently only available to youth up to age 23).

Promotes permanent families for children

  • Establishes an electronic interstate case-processing system to help states expedite the interstate placement of children in foster care, adoption, or guardianship.
  • Extends the Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payment program for five years, which allows states to receive incentive awards for increasing exits of children from foster care to adoption or guardianship.
  • Takes steps, including requiring a GAO Report, to ensure states are reinvesting in post-adoption services state dollars freed up by making additional children eligible for Title IV-E Adoption Assistance payments. To help pay in part for these new reforms, a federal income eligibility requirement for the adoption assistance payments for children under age two was established.

The Children’s Bureau anticipates releasing additional guidance in October 2018 regarding implementation of this new law. In the meantime, North Carolina will begin discussions with counties and stakeholders to gear up for implementation.

Learn More

For more about the Family First Prevention Services Act, visit the Children’s Defense Fund (http://www.childrensdefense.org/policy/welfare/), where you will find a more detailed summary and an implementation timeline for the Act.

Source: http://fosteringperspectives.org/?p=1422

Foster Care Awareness

By Jordan Upton

May is National Foster Care Month. This national month of recognition began in 1988 when President George H. W. Bush issued the proclamation as a way of shining a national spotlight on the foster care system and to help show appreciation for foster parents.

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While there are countless foster parents who work hard to raise foster care awareness in their communities, they do not receive the same national media attention as do celebrities. International movie stars like Angelina Jolie, Hugh Jackman, and Michelle Pfeiffer have all adopted or fostered children in their lives and have spoken publicly about the joy it has brought them in their lives as well as the importance it holds in the lives of the children. Of this group of celebrity foster and adoptive parents is movie star Sandra Bullock, who has adopted two of her children out of the foster care system.

In an interview with InStyle magazine, Bullock discusses the importance of adopting, especially out of the foster care system. Bullock also discourages the use of the phrase “my adopted child”, stating that the word “adopted” is unnecessary. This is an important distinction to make and one that is looked over frequently. There is a stigma place upon fostered or adopted children when using those kinds of terms and it is essential that these children be made to feel loved, cared for, and respected.

While most of us do not have the ability to discuss these topics with international media outlets, we can still work locally to promote fostering and adopting practices. The need for loving and caring foster parents is not contained only to the month of May, but every day, every month, and every year. So please take a little time out of your day to help promote great organizations like AGAPE of N.C. and help us give every child a forever home.

http://www.instyle.com/news/sandra-bullock-june-cover https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/faq/foster-care-5

Staff Profile: Meet the Mentor of Salem House

By Jordan Upton

With the help of donors, board members, and the community, AGAPE of NC was able to open the Salem House in 2017. Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, this house allows for young men aged 18 to 21 who are near to aging out of the foster care system to reside with a house mentor. Here they gain invaluable resources such as job training, resume building, and life skills that will be utilized after their stay at the Salem House.

Currently there are four residents at Salem House under the tutelage of Mr. Larry Dais. Mr. Dais, a recent retiree from the electronic industry, is the foster parent who serves as guardian, teacher, and mentor to these four young men. When asked how he became involved with AGAPE, Dais explained, “There’s a gentleman I go to church with, Joe Hall, and he is a member of the board of directors of AGAPE. And he approached me one day and asked if I would be interested in fostering these 18 to 21 year old boys. And I thought about it for a week or so, and thought it might be something I’d like to do.” This was only the first step on the path that would lead Larry to the Salem House.

The next step for Mr. Dais was to become certified in Foster Care, which is a North Carolina statute to serve in this capacity in the system. After training alongside Mrs. Grace Hepler for ten to eleven months, which included exhaustive and extensive research on scenarios, state rules and regulations, as well as understanding the values associated with AGAPE, Mr. Dais passed his state licensure test in June of 2017.

When asked what a typical day at the Salem House looks like, Larry explained that school and work are first and foremost. Any remaining time available around those two areas include family-type interactions with each other where adult responsibilities such as chores and budgeting are discussed. Additionally, Larry stated his intent to teach the boys skills like writing a resume, how to perform well during an interview, and how to properly fill out job applications. Larry also has hopes of bringing in volunteers to show their certain areas of expertise, such as cooking, to the residents of the house.

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When asked about what members of the community can do to help the Salem House and the foster care community as a whole Mr. Dais said that they need “volunteer[s] to teach these boys about life; how to be adults. We could even have families come in to talk about family dynamics. Hopefully one day these young men will become dads or fathers. And with these break-ups and disconnects they’ve gone through in their lives, I’m sure a lot of them have no real model for how to be a dad, how to be part of a family. So I would just really encourage folks to get involved.”

Whether you are in the Winston-Salem community and are willing and able to volunteer your time to help these boys learn how to expertly navigate adulthood, or you just get the word out about the Salem House, Mr. Dais strongly urges to be an advocate for not only AGAPE and the Salem House in particular, but of fostering as a whole and describes his short time fostering as incredibly satisfying. Donating your time, money, or materials to worthwhile projects such as the Salem House benefits all involved and helps to maintain a community of love, care, and fellowship. Even if it is as small as donating a jar of peanut butter. As Mr. Dais told me, “We could always use another jar of peanut butter.”

Backpack Blessings

By Beth Storms

“These backpacks can seem like a tiny thing to us, but they can mean so much to a child with nothing; it says someone cares for them.” Sandi B

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It takes many caring hands to fill a little backpack 14” square. These first response foster care bags are just big enough to hold a child’s blanket, small stuffed animal, coloring/activity book, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a note of encouragement.

Before these little yellow backpacks with the AGAPE logo on the front can be filled, a call is made, donated items are purchased, a collection area is set up, and arrangements are made to transport. Upon arrival, the items are sorted into bins and gently used items are washed and sometimes mended.

Packing day arrives! Fran described her August backpack packing experience this way...what initially looked like an amazing amount of items sorted across two long rows of tables, came to mean so much more after learning how they would be used; maybe a little boy would like a superhero themed backpack or a little girl might like a pretty pink princess themed backpack. Sandi shared how she and her husband were once AGAPE Foster Parents; perhaps their loving example is a reason their son and his family are now fostering through another organization where they live in Arkansas. Sharon appreciated the opportunity to learn more about how the AGAPE ministry touches the lives of children placed in foster care as she worked. While Carolyn feels physically limited in how she can serve these days, she was glad to able to help.

Hands help in many other amazing ways. Carolyn also serves with the Raleigh Bear Ministry; both Raleigh and Brooks Ave provide bears. A Quilt Ministry at Deep River creates beautiful quilts and graciously donates several to the AGAPE Backpack Ministry. Sarah is a stay-at-home mom of an active toddler who often feels like her life has been reduced to an unending round of laundry, dishes, and story time. Making comfort blankets for the younger foster children when her schedule allows helps fulfill her desire to serve.

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Two fall youth rallies hosted by the Cary and Raleigh youth, produced over 150 encouragement cards to slip into the AGAPE backpacks by simply setting up an area for kids to get creative. Geri, the coordinator of this activity at Cary, said several stayed to make cards specifically because the cards were for AGAPE; many already knew about the ministry because their congregation had collected items to go in the backpacks. One girl, about 12, not aware of AGAPE asked Geri about the activity; after learning what it was for, she shared with Geri that she was currently in foster care and intently proceeded to make several cards. Each card was designed with a sense of caring and, while Geri said she struggled with what to say to a young child she did not know, most of the kids had no trouble with what to write.

Teresa became a Backpack Distributor last July; upon following up with the Social Worker Supervisor a few weeks after her first visit she learned all the backpacks were given out within
a week which was heartbreaking for her to hear but also solidified her reasons for volunteering. The supervisor shared that many children they place only come with the clothes they have on and how she was blessed to personally witness the happiness these backpacks can bring when she had the opportunity to hand out two herself.

And then, we begin again! A spring donation drive is in the works. We tend to run out of blankets when we are packing; winter clearance sales may be a good time to help us stock up! Five Below or thrift stores may be other good resources. 

My Friends Have Adopted! How Can We, the Church, Help Now?

iBelieve.com video of Bri Stenz a pro life writer and advocate

Are you or your church looking for ways to assist and encourage those that adopt?  Or maybe you haven't been wondering how to help those that adopt but now that you have seen this you're curious. This short informative video is for you! 

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF60WrEsWB...

Giving Whole-Heartedly!

By Alandya Warren

It is a universal truth that Jesus is the one friend who will stick by your side for eternity; I believe this wholeheartedly.  In the four gospels, more specifically in Mark chapter two, we learn that a paralyzed man desires to see Jesus once he hears of the Messiah's arrival in town. Everyone else in Capernaum shares that same longing and a crowd soon surrounds Jesus as he shares the Word. The paralyzed man garners his four friends to accompany him to see Jesus, but they cannot get to Jesus because of the crowd. At this point, many people would have turned back and settled for something less than what they wanted. But the paralyzed man's friends were adamant about getting him to Jesus. The friends climbed the dwelling place all the way to the top, dug through the roof, and lowered their friend down to the Lord. 

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It is in this story that I, Alandya Warren, long to be that type of friend to those around me. The friends found in the Gospel of Mark saw and knew how to meet their disabled friend's needs, and it was with Jesus. If we genuinely want to be like Jesus - to love the unlovable, forgive the unworthy, and do good to those we can never repay you - it is one of the greatest gifts you can give and experience yourself. 

AGAPE of NC was the organization that was quintessential in the meeting the needs of my heart; which was to give wholeheartedly. 

Note: For her Sweet 16 Birthday in November 2017, the author asked her family and friends to gift donations to AGAPE in lieu of presenting her with gifts! Let us all be so inspired! 

What NBC’s “This Is Us” Gets Right About Foster Care

Following Deja’s storyline and her accurate portrayal of a child in foster care

By Jordan Upton

1. Trash Bags for Travel

When Deja moves between foster homes, you see her carrying only a trash bag. Many children entering foster care do not have things of their own, especially suitcases. They are often provided with just a trash bag to gather what clothing and possessions they will take with them to foster care. There are many programs nationwide attempting to remedy this problem by providing children with backpacks and basic necessities when they enter foster care: AGAPE of NC’s Backpack Blessings; Things of My Very Own; Together We Rise

2. Parental Substance Abuse Problems

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Viewers are told through a social worker that Deja’s mom must successfully complete a rehab program and maintain sobriety at home before Deja can return. This is the reality for a majority of children entering foster care. The Center for Community Partnerships in Child Welfare of the Center for the Study of Social Policy reports that 45 to 88% of cases referred to child protective services have a parental substance abuse problem.

3. Mistreatment from Foster Parents

Deja is placed in a foster home with another girl, Raven. The foster dad frequently beats them, but when discussing the abuse, Raven says, “At least all he does is hit us.” Mistreatment of children in foster care is an issue nationwide, with studies finding that “in Oregon and Washington state ... nearly one third reported being abused by a foster parent or another adult in a foster home.”

4. Siblings are Often Separated

Though in the show Deja and Raven are friends, not siblings, they dreaded being separated. Deja reported the abuse in their previous home, and upon being removed, Raven was distraught that now they would be separated and may face worse obstacles alone. The National Center for Youth Law estimates that “over half of children in foster care nationwide have one or more siblings also in care.” Though studies show the benefits of keeping siblings together, it is often not possible, and some reports indicate that up to 75% of siblings in foster care are separated.

5. Reunification with Family Often Fails

Deja is reunited with her mother, only to later be pulled out of school by her social worker because her mother has been arrested. Deja must re-enter foster care, a common occurrence. Many “case plans” created for parents are overwhelming obstacles to getting their children back. Kevin Norell, a caseworker in Utah, writes that often “many plans are designed for failure.”

In addition to the backpack blessings program, AGAPE of NC also strives to combat these and other issues typically seen in foster care. The staff of AGAPE works closely with potential foster parents, ensuring they are trained and adequately equipped to care for children entering their homes and lives. They maintain contact and are always available as a resource to children and parents. AGAPE makes every effort to keep siblings together when placed in foster care homes and ease their transition as much as possible. It is the mission of AGAPE to provide compassionate Christian outreach and strengthen families one child at a time. 

The CHANGE for LIFE You Gave was Awesome!

Director's Update

By Kim Scott

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With many thanks to YOU for responding to our appeals, we can declare AGAPE's Second Annual CHANGE for LIFE campaign a resounding success! Together, you exceeded our financial campaign goal of $70,000 - raising a total of $82,000! That's an almost 31% increase over the previous year's campaign! 

The Second Annual CHANGE for LIFE campaign again challenged donors to save their spare change until churches across North Carolina could collect it on the AGAPE Sundays they designated in December 2017 and January 2018. We also requested continuous prayer over all the other donations given monthly, quarterly and annually each year in support of AGAPE's mission.  

Our social media outreach focused on raising awareness about all the opportunities to make a CHANGE for LIFE! Some of those efforts included: 

- Allowing everyone to "meet" some of our foster families by sharing videos

- Launching our first GIVING TUESDAY appeal last November

- Working with WQDR on commercials that aired throughout November and December to communicate the need for more foster parents.

The positive impact of your faithful support is already evident in 2018 with:

- New foster families becoming licensed

- Additional foster children being placed into these homes

- New adoptions

- Additional opportunities to provide Christian counseling to members of our community.

Our gratitude goes out to you all for believing and participating in AGAPE's calling to place foster and adoptive children in safe, loving, Christian homes.  

When a Parent is Incarcerated

By Melissa Radcliff

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of Fostering Perspectives

Children can love their parents, even if they don't like what they do.  Children can love their parents even if they understand they can't live with them.  This can be true for children in foster care where the parent is incarcerated.  Today's article by Melissa Radcliff helps us as foster parents or mentors to understand the child's feeling better and our role in their parent-child relationship. 

Source: http://fosteringperspectives.org/?p=987

Women Who Helped Pave The Way

By Jordan Upton

In 1980, the week of March 8th was declared International Women’s History Week by President Jimmy Carter. This historic week was established to honor the great female leaders who fought for the rights of women and for equality for all such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Sacagawea. This historic week was eventually extended to the entire month of March and new additions of great women who impact our society are written in the history books daily.

AGAPE of N.C. would not be as successful as it is today without the help of some truly inspiring women who helped pave the way for advancements in foster care, adoption, and counseling services. Here are three women who played vital roles in altering the landscapes of these areas for not only women but for everyone involved in them.

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Edna Gladney, born in 1886, was an advocate for children’s rights and the improvement of conditions for disadvantaged children. Edna and her husband helped establish the Texas Children’s Home and Aid Society in 1910 and she would be the superintendent until 1961. The Texas Children’s Home would later be renamed the Gladney Center for Adoption. In 1936, Mrs. Gladney lobbied in Texas for the removal of the word “illegitimate” from children’s birth certificates, removing a long-standing stigma placed on children placed into adoption. Gladney would also successfully campaign for adopted children to receive the same inheritance rights as biological children as well as the recognition of being legally adopted as opposed to the children being “under long-term guardianship”. Edna Gladney fought her entire life for the rights of disadvantaged and adopted children and she radically changed the face of the field.

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Melanie Klein was an influential psychologist who dramatically changed the field of child psychology. Klein, born in 1882 in Austria-Hungary, worked as a peer to Sigmund Freud and was a lead in psychoanalysis theory, becoming the first person to use this kind of therapy with children. Klein’s direct work with children helped disprove some controversial theories some psychologists, like Freud, had of children. Thanks to Klein’s work, we are better equipped to understand the needs and wants, emotionally and mentally, of children in far more ways than we were previous to her groundbreaking work. Not only did Klein alter the face of children’s psychology, but of psychology as a whole.

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Edith Cowan was born in Australia in 1861. Cowan had a turbulent and unpleasant upbringing and because of this, she would dedicate her life to the rights of women and children. Cowan helped establish the Karrakatta Club in Perth, Australia in 1894, making it the first women’s club in the country. This club helped women find their own voices to lobby against the injustices they felt were being perpetrated against women and children. She also helped to form the Women’s Service Guilds in 1909 and was a co-founder of Australia’s National Council of Women. Later, Cowan helped to establish the Children's Protection Society and devoted her time to advocate against children being tried as adults in the court system. Her role dramatically influenced the implementation of children’s courts in Australia, and Cowan would serve on the bench for eighteen years, making her one of the first female Justices of the Peace ever. In addition to her role in the role of children in the judicial system, she also strongly advocated for educational reform in order to advance and emphasize the importance of knowledge in children.

While there are countless other women who have influenced the various areas that AGAPE of N.C. focuses on, these three women deserve to be lauded and showcased. We here at AGAPE we applaud strong and courageous women and are indebted to all who advocate for the rights and equality of all. 

Building Resiliencies in Teens

By Angela Quijada

A Foster Care Alum
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How do you feel about your resilience? Can you look back and see how mentors and other adults in your life helped you build your resilience? Now consider how a child in foster care may struggle to develop the level of resilience they need to lead confident adult lives.  Today's article is written by a foster care alum with words of encouragement for teens in foster care and the adults in their lives. 

Source: http://fosteringperspectives.org/?p=1333

This Is Us: and the Depiction of Foster Care on Television

By Jordan Upton

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NBC’s hit show “This Is Us” brings experiences of adoption and foster care to mainstream audiences. The show has been praised for its accurate portrayal of the issues from many perspectives - adoptive parents, adopted children, foster parents, children in foster care, and the parents whose children are taken from them and placed into foster care.

In the first episode, the viewer is introduced to Jack and Rebecca, who are expecting triplets. When one child is stillborn, the couple finds out that another baby had been surrendered at the hospital that very day. They see it as a sign they are meant to adopt the baby and still have three children, triplets celebrating the same birthday. Viewers follow Jack and Rebecca’s storyline as they become Randall’s adoptive parents. Their trials aren’t sugar-coated for easy consumption, but show “real tensions that exist”, says Jason Weber of the nonprofit Christian Alliance for Orphans. Early on, Rebecca explains her struggles connecting with their adopted son by saying, “I grew the other two inside of me; he feels like a stranger.” The honesty in these scenes draws emotional responses from viewers.

Randall’s storyline as an adopted son doesn’t shy away from his inner struggles between fully accepting and being loyal to his adopted family, and his quest to find his biological family.

In season two, the show begins to tackle experiences of foster care. The show highlights Randall and his wife’s arguments, hesitations, and ultimate decision to foster in a way that reflects real life. Viewers are introduced to their first foster daughter, Deja, and see flashbacks of her story: multiple foster homes, carrying her only belongings from place to place in a trash bag, abuse from former foster parents. These scenes are heartbreaking and even more tragic because of their accuracy. 

It Is Okay To Be Angry

By Michael Olivieri

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Foster Focus Magazine

Have you ever been angry and had someone tell you to just stop it? How did that make you feel? Did it work? Many children that come to us through the foster system have good reason to be angry, but that doesn't mean the way they show the anger is acceptable.  How would you have felt if instead of being told to stop how you feel, you had been taught how to direct or use your anger in a healthy way?  Meet Michael Olivieri, and the story that is his to share.  

Source: https://www.fosterfocusmag.com/articles/it...

The Opioid Crisis: Causing Thousands of Children to be Left in the Foster Care System

By Jordan Upton

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The opioid crisis has been ravishing communities for years and continues to build. CNN reported that in 2016 more than 63,000 overdosed on opioids, which is an umbrella term for prescription medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as synthetic or modified painkillers such as fentanyl. This number is more than those who died of breast cancer (41,070). These staggering numbers are leaving thousands of young children without families, who ultimately are forced into foster care.

As NPR reported in December of last year, Indiana, for example, had their child welfare agencies strained for resources after they jumped from having 2,500 children in their services in 2014 to over 5,500 in 2017. This is only an example showing one state in the country that is facing this dilemma. And, while the opioid crisis has been labeled as a public health emergency, funds are not being allocated to assist in the areas of child welfare services.

This flooding of children into the foster care and adoption agencies is causing strain on the services themselves, the employees, and most importantly, the children who are put into these unfortunate circumstances.

https://www.npr.org/2017/12/23/573021632/the-foster-care-system-is-flooded-with-children-of-the-opioid-epidemic

https://www.cnn.com/2017/12/21/health/drug-overdoses-2016-final-numbers/index.html

www.drugabuse.gov