Helping Your Birth and Other Children Get Along

By Mellicent Blythe , Fostering Perspectives

https://fosteringperspectives.org/fp_v11n2/blythe.htm

One aspect of fostering that does not get much study is how best to integrate the children in foster care into a family’s rhythm of life and just how crucial this is for the well-being of everyone in the home. This article reveals findings from a study along with some implications that can be used in practical ways.

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Director's Update- 3rd Quarter 2019

By Kimberly Scott

AGAPE of NC opened its second young adult foster home (YAFH) in August 2019. This foster home caters to young men, ages 18-21 years old, and is located in Wilmington, NC. Goals at our young men’s foster home are the same as for our young ladies’ YAFH in Raleigh – to assist older youth aging out of the foster care system to complete their educations, find jobs, and learn life-skills that will help them transition to independent living.

This newest foster home is next door to the Pine Valley Church of Christ. Don Horton is the foster parent. We are excited to have the Pine Valley congregation as a wonderful resource and support to Don and the young men in his home!

Don experienced a turbulent childhood, himself -- moving from place to place frequently, watching family members engage in substance abuse, with little privacy and theft of personal belongings. At 13, Don’s case worker got him a job working at a children’s summer camp because of his maturity. When Don was 16 years-old, he found and accepted Christ!

After graduating high school, Don served in the Army ReserveNational Guard and, upon returning home, worked at the Armory and doing odd jobs. However, being the oldest of 27 grandchildren and always surrounded by youngsters, Don knew he wanted a career working with kids.

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He took some college courses and was eventually hired to work at a 24-hour mental health treatment center for children. Don was employed there for 15 years as a direct care provider for senior youth and as a teacher’s aide. Don taught life skills, like budgeting -- and he modeled others, like appropriate behavior, social aptitude, problem- solving, and communication. Don continued his work at the center while battling cancer and, only retired from it, after suffering an injury that restricted his ability to lift patients with mobility challenges.

The strengths Don brings to AGAPE’s newest YAFH include his personal background and life experience, coupled with the knowledge he acquired working with a young adult population (aged 15+) in a residential setting.

One young man has already been accepted into theWilmington YAFH! Now, AGAPE has only 3 more vacancies left to fill Don’s foster home for young men!

Kings Dominion Amusement Park!

By Fay Evans

Our first field trip last July was a big success! We invited young ladies and young men from several small organizations –All Things New (sponsored by Patricia Holland); AGAPE of NC’s Young Adult Foster Home in Raleigh (where I’m the Foster Parent); PEACH Outreach (also sponsored by me); and Center Piece (sponsored by Sherita Taylor, my Goddaughter and a resident of GA).

When asked if they wanted to go to the Gospel Joy Fest to partake in a Christian concert, all our young people jumped at the opportunity! The teenagers also spent hours in the water park (we were sure they had grown fish gills). My daughter, Shalita (a resident of VA), is still a kid at heart; so she hung with them on most of the rides. How exciting it was when they would rush back to us after a ride to share their experiences!

~ Looking at all their joyful expressions reminded me why we do this. I like to call it fuel for the heart. ~

One young lady told us how she felt like she would faint on each roller coaster and then demonstrated how she looked. What a performance she put on -- we were weak from laughter! Watching all our teens show & tell how loud the others screamed on a ride was priceless! Even the quietest one in our group opened up from her shyness to express how much fun she was having . . . such memories created!

Some of the girls chose to spend time exploring the park in different areas but, for the most part, they all stayed together as a group. Now that also spoke volumes to me. As we all know, most teenagers just want to do their own thing or hang out with their own cliques. (They may have chosen to stay together because the park was so large and could have been a little overwhelming or because they actually bonded together. I choose to think it’s the latter!)

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Wonderfully, there were only a few disagreements that day -- like differences on where we should eat or what time we would go to the next ride. You can just imagine hearing any teenager declare, “But we stood in line for your ride last time.” So, we must admit that life is not perfect every moment -- but we can always use the opportunity to share God’s love.

Overall, the girls and guys did love their time together -- laughing and joking, as young people do! We enjoyed the park until about 10 PM that evening. Only two or three of the youth in our group had ever experienced an amusement park of this caliber. So, this trip was truly something to remember! I thank all who helped make this awesome trip possible!

Day in the Park Festival

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We are so excited to be participating in the 48th Annual Day in the Park Festival! Make your plans now to join the fun this Saturday and stop by our booth to say hello!

Day in the Park returns to the Piedmont for its 48th festival with fun-filled, family-oriented entertainment, crafts, food and much more on Saturday, September 21. Nestled in the beautiful High Point City Lake Park, the festival is presented by the High Point Arts Council in cooperation with the High Point Parks & Recreation Department. Day in the Park is a long standing tradition that has been celebrating the arts longer than any other festival in Guilford County, NC.

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The festival will be held from 11:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. and the park is located at 602 W. Main Street in Jamestown. Admission is free!

http://highpointarts.org/arts/community-outreach-programs/day-in-the-park/

The Christian Case Against the Orphanage

Children need a stable family, not institutional care.

Christianity Today

By Krish Kandiah

“No matter how well run an orphanage is, we really do not want our children to grow up there; it can never be as a child growing up in a family with mother and father.” There is so much need around the world, good orphanages and bad, but still no substitute for the family. Please take a few minutes to read this story from Christianity Today at https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/august-web-only/christian-case-against-orphanage-kandiah-gls.html

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How To Make Initial Placements Easier

By Rochelle Johnson

FosteringPerspectives.org

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“The initial placement of a child in our home is often an exciting time. For many of us, it is the first introduction to a young person that will be living with us for days, months, or sometimes years. In a perfect world, the logistics of welcoming that child into our family would be clearly presented and carefully organized so we could focus on the important goal of making the child’s transition as easy and smooth as possible.

However, we don’t live in a perfect world. Initial placements can be rocky, hurried, and filled with informational gaps about a child’s history, basic necessities, and emotional needs. Here are a few tips and tools to help alleviate stress on foster parents, with the ultimate goal of helping you focus on what we as foster parents have all set out to do: provide kids with a nurturing and safe environment to help them grow and heal.”

Read the rest of this article for 5 steps that can help make initial placements much easier. http://fosteringperspectives.org/?p=1649

How Will I Remember My Life When Moving From One Home To Another?

By Donna Foster

FosteringPerspectives.org

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“A life book is essential in helping a child who has experienced trauma. And all children in foster care have experienced trauma. We need good, warm stories to balance the difficult times in our lives. And when we forget, we need those who were there to remind us of them.” Read more about life books, how they help a foster child and how to make them at http://fosteringperspectives.org/?p=1656.

FAQ's

By Jordan Upton

Are you or someone you know interested in becoming a foster parent? We at AGAPE would love for you to be involved! Before getting started, here are some general requirements and frequently asked questions that may help you make the amazing leap into the world of fostering.

General Requirements:

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  •  You must be at least 21 years old. There is no top age limit.

  •  You must be in good health.

  •  If married, you must have been married for at least two years.

  • Both parents are allowed to work outside the home.

  • You can be a single parent.

  • You must be a Christian.

    Frequently Asked Questions:
    1. Who are the children in need of foster care?

    Children placed in foster care are those that are temporarily removed from their birth family. This is sometimes due to the child being in an unsafe environment where they have faced abuse or neglect. Or, the child could have been surrendered to an adoption agency and, while waiting for the legal process to be completed, need a temporary home with a foster family. Children’s ages can range from a few days old up to eighteen years old. Sometimes it is a single child in need of a home and sometimes it is an entire family. Occasionally some children face serious medical concerns or physical maladies. Most foster children have experienced great emotional or physical trauma, which makes the need for them to be placed in a loving, caring, understanding home even greater.

2. How long are these children in foster care?

While every situation is unique, the average time spent in foster care through AGAPE of N.C. is eight months. Some children will spend a few days with a foster family and others will spend a few years. Both during the licensure procedure and when a specific child is being presented to a foster family, the potential length of stay will be fully discussed, and the foster family will participate very directly in making the decision of what is right for them. Foster care is by definition temporary, but the length varies with every child and his/her circumstances.

3. What happens if I become too attached to my foster child that I do not want to let them go?

Bonding and becoming attached is a natural and necessary part of fostering. Without these things the child would feel unwanted and unloved. Foster families feel as if they are sending a piece of their heart with their foster child when they leave. This is an important part of the process and your caseworker is sensitive to this. AGAPE will help you prepare for this sense of loss and how to adjust after your foster child has left. AGAPE believes that God has given foster parents an even bigger heart so they are able to give so much of their love away to these children in need. If you feel as if you would be too easily attached to a foster child and would experience a tremendous loss when your foster child is placed in a permanent home, AGAPE feels as if you would be the best candidate to participate in this loving service.

4. What is involved in the licensure process?

AGAPE uses state regulations and agency policies to ensure prospective families are a right fit for becoming foster parents. Foster families submit an application and will be put in touch with a caseworker. This caseworker will begin the evaluation process and preparation period, usually lasting three months. Additionally, the caseworker will spend many hours interviewing the family in the AGAPE offices as well as in the potential family home. Home inspections and background checks are given. In the end, the caseworker will assign a specific number of foster children to the home (one to five), a specific age range (from birth to 18 years old), specific gender when applicable, and the family will be informed of any special needs or circumstances for the children if the family feels they are equipped to handle such situations.

5. What if I have never fostered before? How will I know what to do?

During the licensure process families will undergo a minimum of 30 hours of training for the specific type, situation, and age of children in which the family is placed. While fostering, the families also receive more training. Most importantly, the family is never on their own. Their caseworker is always available and will visit on a regular basis. Additionally, the AGAPE staff is on call and available 24 hours a day, ready and willing to help with any question or concern that arises.

6. Is this a paid or volunteer position?

This is strictly a volunteer-based process. The agency does provide a set reimbursement per month per child to cover expenses directly associated with the child. This money is not treated as income by the IRS and does not need to be reported since it is

reimbursement of actual expenses. Foster families report that this is an adequate amount to meet basic needs. With older children there is often a clothing allowance once or twice a year. The foster home is not responsible for medical expenses related to the child.

7. How can I get started?

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent or have additional questions please contact AGAPE at 919-673-7816 for a no obligation information meeting. This meeting will serve to help you “count the cost” of such service, and to decide if this is right for your family. At that time an application will be made available to you. Please visit AGAPE’s website at www.agapeofnc.org for more information and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with news and relevant information.

Be A Pam

By Melissa Holland

Last week I had the privilege of visiting with a woman who is known in her County for her generosity and compassion.  She believes that we are put on earth to be of service to others, and she lives out this belief every day.  Pam, who is in her 70s and has grown children, saw a need five years ago and decided to take action.

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Julie, who was 11 months old at the time, had been removed from her home due to her parents' drug and alcohol abuse which caused them to neglect her care.  Before her retirement, Pam had worked in the child support office of the county, and knew well the ins and outs of foster care.  The people involved in placing Julie felt that it would be difficult to find a family willing to take her due to her parents' and grandparents' connections to drug dealers in the area.  As it turns out, they were right to worry.  Several families expressed interest in Julie only to refuse to take her once they found out about her background.  

Enter Pam.  Pam told me that she had missed having children around at Christmas because it seemed so much less exciting without them.  Of course, that wasn't her main reason for wanting Julie.  Pam said that she feared that Julie would not have any chance at a successful life if she didn't have the stability and opportunities that Pam could provide for her.  While she could only guess what Julie might have suffered, she soon discovered that Julie suffers from PTSD.  She does not want to be alone.  Recently, Pam set up a playroom for Julie, but she refuses to play in it.  She always plays in the room where everyone else is, and creates a "barricade" to protect herself in case she needs it. 

Julie will attend a co-op school this year where she can be just another little girl.  Not the daughter of parents who are notorious in the county.  Not a girl who will be bullied or looked down on for things she cannot control.  A girl with a loving family who is curious about nature, who loves animals, who lives life to the fullest. 

Pat loved Julie even before they became a family.  Over time, that love has grown even though it has been tested many times.  When I left Pam's house, I wondered how many Julies are waiting for their Pam to show up.  Some Julies are still children, but some are all grown up.  All of them deserve a chance to know what it is to be loved unconditionally.  To know that God loves them and that Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for them. 

As Jesus followers, we should keep watch for the Julies.  Maybe God put them in our path for us to be a Pam.  

*Names have been changed




Foster Care to College: A Crisis We Can Solve

TEDx Talks

Published on May 3, 2017

Dr. Robert Duke has been a foster parent since 2011. During that time, he has served on the Director's Council for the Department of Children and Family Services in Los Angeles County, which serves the largest community of foster children in the nation. Robert currently serves as the dean of the School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University.

Children in Need. Children Ignored.

Tedx Talks by Dr. John DeGarmo

Dr. John DeGarmo is a leading international foster care expert and consultant. His talk is about the foster care crisis in America, and how more children are being placed into foster care, yet there are not enough homes. Dr. John DeGarmo is the author of several foster care books, including the new book The Foster Care Survival Guide, the best selling book Faith and Foster Care, as well as the foster care children's book A Different Home: A New Foster Child's Story. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

All Things New Inc.

By Patricia Holland, Executive Director for ATNI

All Things New Inc. aims to assist foster youth in North Carolina through their transition out of foster care. ATNI serves foster youth by offering services, training programs, and supportive resources in a variety of areas including financial education, housing, life skills training and kinship care.

As ATNI’s Executive Director, I enjoyed the opportunity to visit the site of AGAPE of NC’s Young Adult Foster Home in Raleigh, conducted a group session, and spoke with each individual participant, as well. I give all the credit to God for ATNI being able to partner with AGAPE in service to foster youth.

“My meeting with AGAPE’s Executive Director, Kimberly Scott and Foster Mom, Faye Evans, was the plan of God and his Divine timing.”~Patricia Holland

On March 30, 2019, ATNI held their Fostering Goals-One Step at a Time event as part of the Life Skills program, and a Vision Board workshop was arranged for June 1, 2019.

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Other activities and programs for foster youth that ATNI is in the process of planning for 2019 include: a foster youth field trip, a Financial Planning workshop, The Need To Know About Insurance workshop, Career Counseling one-on- one, the Kinship Care Holiday event, and ATNI’s dinner and movie fundraiser.

Please visit www.allthingsnewinc.org, or check out All Things New Inc. on Facebook, for updates and sign-up opportunities on all of ATNI’s upcoming events.

Are You Coming to the 2019 CBC Bluegrass Music Festival?

By Lisa Brewer, Executive Director for the CBC Bluegrass Festival

You will not want to miss it! This year’s 8th annual Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival in Mocksville, NC will feature more free activities, crafts and games for families and kids than ever before and, as usual, children under 12 are admitted free! CBC Board Member and Festival Chairman, Gregory J. Brewer says, “It’s important that the festival provide special activities for our younger guests.”

• Since CBC and AGAPE of NC are both all about serving children and their families, for the third year in a row, AGAPE will sponsor the Kids’ Activities tent -- a covered 10-by-30-foot area featuring more than a dozen free supervised activities for young people, including old- fashioned sidewalk games, upcycled creative craft projects, Bible pages, and a freestanding Kids Paint wall – all of which are popular activities!

• This year, too, there will be opportunities to play Gaga Ball and for young folks to try out musical instruments! (Psst . . . Also, the annual fundraiser auction will list a brand-new, still-in-the-box Deering Goodtime Banjo valued at more than $600! Do you have a budding bluegrasser who needs it?)

AND don’t forget how we will open the Bluegrass Festival on Saturday, September 14th. Two AGAPE of NC families – the Finchesand the Covalinskis – will kick things off that morning at 10:45 a.m.with their kids leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance!! These families expressed their excitement by saying, “We are honored!” and “We’d love to attend the CBC Bluegrass Festival and represent AGAPE!”

Once again, AGAPE will have a vendor tent where all day long Festival attendees will have an opportunity to get more information about AGAPE’s programs and services.

We are pleased that the line-up of musical artists for the 2019 CBC Bluegrass Festival now includes five acts!!!!

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  • Dom Flemons, the American Songster

  • Terry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive

  • Andy Eversole & the Banjo Earth Band

  • The Kevin Prater Band

  • His ‘n’ Hers

    Visit www.cbcbluegrass.com for more information, to see photos & read about all the musical artists and, most importantly, to purchase tickets in advance! All proceeds benefit the Carolina Bible Camp development and scholarship funds.

Book Recommendation: ​ReFraming Foster Care

Leah Tripp

Jason Johnson’s 2018 book, ReFraming Foster Care : Filtering Your Foster Parenting Journey Through the Lens of the Gospel is an honest, yet hopeful look into the world of foster care through Johnson’s own experience as a foster parent.

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The book is a collection of reflections on the lessons Johnson and his wife, Emily have learned through their years foster parenting. Johnson boldly addresses the fears, trials, and grief associated with foster care and parenting, but also openly speaks of the necessity of gospel centered foster parents and the healing the process can bring, not just for foster children, but for foster parents as well.

Johnson’s book brings breathes new life into the discussion of foster care by discussing the various parallels between the gospel of Christ and the potential for ministry within the foster care. Johnson’s focus is never on the heroism or sacrifice of foster parents themselves, but rather, on the calling that God places in the hearts of believers to carry out the mission of loving others fully and well.

Johnson’s book has received glowing reviews, both from critics and everyday readers. Declared by one reader as a “must read for anyone involved in the foster care process,” ReFraming Foster Care is a worthy purchase for those currently foster parenting, those who are considering becoming foster parents, or those who seek to gain a better understanding of how to help foster families within their community.

Each chapter of Johnson’s book contains personal reflection questions and a group discussion guide so that the concepts included in the book can be discussed with spouses, family members, or small groups.

To learn more about Johnson’s journey in the foster care system, or to purchase your copy ofReFraming Foster Care, visit Johnson’s website.

What is Kinship Care?

Leah Tripp

When talking about foster care and adoption, it can be easy to get lost among the many labels that apply to different forms of care. Kinship care is a term that is often used within the world of foster care, but may not be fully understood.

Kinship care occurs when a child who has been removed from their parents is placed under the care and supervision of another relative (stepparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, etc), or in some states, under the care of a close family friend (who are often called fictive kin).

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In many situations, kinship care is the desired option, as it allows the children who are being removed from their parents to retain their connection with their family. While kinship care is not always an option, it often provides the child with a greater sense of stability while still allowing them to maintain cultural traditions, which makes it a preferable situation in many cases.

Since kinship care often involves a legal and/or biological tie to the child, the eligibility process varies based on case. In some situations, kinship care is “formal,” meaning that the child(ren) involved are legally removed from the home of their biological parents and taken into the custody of the State. This requires the child welfare agency, along with the court system, to find a caregiver to place the child with, beginning with immediate relatives. Because this process is intimately tied to the legal system, formal kinship caregivers must complete a training and licensure process, while also providing financial compensation and other supportive services.

In other situations, kinship care can be informal, or “voluntary,” meaning that the State has not taken legal custody of the children, but the biological parents of the child, typically under the advisement of child welfare agencies, have voluntarily placed their children with a relative. Custody status may change over time in these situations, but at the start, voluntary kinship care is defined by the fact that biological

parents have willingly temporary relinquished their full-time care of the child. Because the legal process of voluntary care is not as strenuous, many voluntary kinship caregivers do not have to go through the training and licensure process.

The ultimate goal of kinship care is reunification with the biological parents. However, the return of the child to his or her original home is not always an option. In these cases, many kinship caregivers are given the option to adopt the child they have been caring for. As with any form of foster care or adoption, the primary goal of kinship care is to provide the safest and most stable environment for the child involved.