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.

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.

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.

Understanding Trauma

Leah Tripp

Terms like “trauma” often conjure up images of terrible accidents, violence, or war in our minds. We tend to associate the concept of trauma with a singular event that inflicts deep psychological pain.

However, trauma can often be a product of ongoing negative experiences, and many children who have been adopted or are in foster care have experienced trauma of some kind. In order to love and care for these children in the healthiest way possible, it is important to understand the way trauma impacts emotional and psychological well-being.

Childhood trauma can be caused by a variety of situations, but most often hinges on experiences of abuse (verbal or physical) and neglect. Abuse and neglect have a long lasting impact on children due to the fact that these traumas occur while they are still cognitively developing.

Children who experience neglect and abuse during their formative years are receiving mixed messages regarding who to trust, what behavior is appropriate, and how to interact with people as a whole. The people they naturally trust (parents), have put them in danger in one way or another, thus making it difficult for them to identify what is safe and what is not.

In some instances, this instability can cause changes in a child’s brain structure. According to Counseling Today, children that are exposed to chronic neglect and abuse begin perceiving everything as a threat in order to defend themselves, which alters the prefrontal cortex. Their brain is constantly in “survival mode” rather than “learning mode,” which sometimes makes it more difficult for them to develop cognitive skills at a normal rate.

It is vital to understand that any child who has been removed from their biological parents has experienced trauma in some way. The severity of this trauma ranges based on situation, but it is there nonetheless.

Recent studies have shown that even infants, who are often deemed “too young to remember,” experience trauma.

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According to the Center for Youth and Family Solutions, unborn babies are capable of auditory processing as early as the second trimester. This means that when a child is born and then removed from the voice that they heard in utero, their brain experiences confusion and depravity.

While it is important to understand the instances and effects of trauma, it is also important to realize that the symptoms of emotional trauma can be decreased through coping strategies and interventions by the child’s caretakers.

While counseling and other professional interventions are highly recommended, emotional support on behalf of family members, foster parents, and adoptive parents is vital to helping a child who has experienced trauma.

Often, childhood trauma is a result of repeated patterns of instability. Therefore, showing a child who has experienced trauma that they are in a safe, secure environment with people who love and care for them is integral to the process of growth and healing. If you’d like to be a part of providing a child with stability and safety, consider reaching out to AGAPE of North Carolina regarding foster care, adoption, or respite care.

For more information regarding childhood trauma and parenting, visit the U.S. Children’s Bureau for resources.

Giving Life: Father Receives Kidney From Adopted Daughter

Leah Tripp

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27 years ago, Billy Houze and his wife, Karen, adopted their daughter DeLauren McKnight from foster care, giving her a new family and a new life.

27 years later, McKnight is returning the gesture in a miraculous way: she’s saving her father’s life.

In 2016, Houze received the devastating news that his kidneys were failing. His prognosis was not favorable; if he didn’t receive a kidney transplant in five years, he wouldn’t survive.

The 64 year old pastor and father of five immediately began searching for matches within his own family, knowing that he may not live long enough to get moved up on the transplant list.

Houze’s biological sons were tested, to no avail. Three years passed with no match.

McKnight, who “never thought [she] would be a match because [she] was adopted,” decided to get tested just in case. On February 1, she received a life-changing call at work, confirming that she was a match and could donate her kidney to her father.

McKnight called her father right away, telling Good Morning America that she wanted him to be the first person who heard the news.

“I called and said ‘Daddy, I have to tell you something. I’m a match.’”

McKnight explains that the phone call with her father was very moving, saying that she was shaking as she told Houze she was a match.

“He stopped talking and he was crying...It was overwhelming”

Houze, who McKnight lovingly calls her Superman, says that he is immensely proud of his daughter.

“She told me, ‘Daddy, you thought you were saving my life pulling me from foster care but in actuality, you were saving my life so I could save yours later.’”

The father-daughter duo is expected to undergo the transplant surgery in the coming weeks, and are excited for the opportunity to live a happy, healthy life alongside one another and their family for years to come.

“We Focus on the Future”: A Conversation with Fay Evans

Leah Tripp

From the moment Fay Evans answers the phone, I can tell that I’m in for a blessing.

Her compassion and charisma is evident within the first few minutes of our conversation. When I ask her how long she’s been involved with helping young adults, she laughingly tells me of her daughter’s remark to her many years before:

“Mama, you’re always bringing someone else’s children home.”

Evans, who is currently the resident foster parent for AGAPE’s Young Adult Foster Home in Raleigh, tells me that she’s been working with teens in some capacity for most of her life. Whether it be through mentoring programs, church affiliation, or family connections, she’s always had a passion for helping young adults bridge the gap into adulthood.

A resident of Virginia for most of her life, Evans says that in 2005, God took her passion for young adults and used it in a new way- to have her to help and guide young women. Evans said the Lord called her to North Carolina, telling her to show young women His love through her own heart.

So Evans picked up her life and moved, a decision that she admits was easy to question at times.

Determined to discover God’s purpose for her, she began calling local foster care and adoption agencies. Some agencies didn’t get back to her, while others just didn’t feel like the right fit. Eventually, she found AGAPE of North Carolina.

“I kept seeing AGAPE, feeling like I needed to call... When I talked with Kim, we just had a connection, like we were both looking for each other.”

Evans’ partnership with AGAPE led to her being placed as the resident foster parent for AGAPE’s Young Adult Foster Home for women in Raleigh; an experience that Evans says is challenging, but rewarding.

She explains that caring for and guiding young adults is different because they have already formed their own opinions, personalities, and value systems. The process of learning each other’s likes, dislikes, and triggers has been a process, but it reaps reward as well.

“Days when you see them excited because they cooked a meal or filled out an application- those days make it worthwhile... If I can help one or two, I know my call is not in vain”

Her determination to guide young women has been a long time coming; she recounts the concern she felt when watching her niece, who was also a foster parent, work with young adults who were aging out of the system.

“I had never done foster care in my life, but I had the feeling those kids weren’t ready. They needed more tools, and they didn’t have them yet”

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That is Evans’ ultimate goal: to give her girls the love and the tools they need to create options for themselves. She tells me that she knows that they will make mistakes, but she wants them to have enough resources to be able to recover from those errors and try again.

Evans recognizes the importance of second chances in homes like hers. However, she tells me that the girls recognize the beauty of second chances as well.

“I’ve heard one or two say that they are so thankful for a new beginning.”

As our conversation comes to a close, I ask Evans how she’s seen the girls she’s worked with over the years grow and change. Her answer is simple, but poignant: they begin to think of their futures.

She explains that when the girls come into the home, they often have no clue what they want to do with their lives, but now, when she sits and talks with them, they have goals. They have hopes of college, of owning their own cars, of eventually having their own homes. They have hope that their lives can be in their own control.

“Around here, we talk some of the past, but we focus on the future.”

Share Your Story: An Opportunity for Foster Youth

Leah Tripp

Sharing stories is a vital part of building and finding community.

FosterClub, an organization that strives to provide foster children and youth with a network of peers and mentors, is currently holding a contest that is based on the powerful impact of storytelling.

The contest, called the “Creative Expression Contest,” is taking submissions from any youth under the age of 25 that has experienced foster care.

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The theme of the contest is “Finding Your People: How Foster Youth Connect.” Contestants are encouraged to focus their entries on the process of finding peers within foster care, the importance of connecting with others who have experienced the complexities of foster care, and how finding a community within the foster care system has equipped them to better serve those around them.

Submissions can be in any form of writing (essay, poem, etc), but must be under 500 words and written in English. While a trusted adult can help with the development of the submission, the content of the entry should be that of the contestant.

Entries for the Creative Expression Contest are due on April 30th, 2019. Each creator of a work that is published by FosterClub will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.

If you or someone you know has experienced foster care and would like to share their story via FosterClub’s contest, visit their site here for a more detailed list of entry guidelines.

Summer Camps for Foster Children

Leah Tripp

Summer will be here before we know it, which means summer camp sign ups are approaching as well!

If you or someone you know are currently fostering a child, consider the following local camps who specialize in experiences that nurture spiritual, emotional, and social growth in a way that is specific to children in foster care.

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The Bridge Camp

The Bridge Camp is sponsored by Least of These Carolinas, and serves children 8-18 years old who are currently in foster care, or have exited foster care in the last year. The camp is held at Crowders Ridge in Gastonia, North Carolina, and runs for a week every summer. Registration is required to attend, and includes a $10 application fee.

The goal of The Bridge Camp is to provide foster children with a community of people who understand their situation, and to communicate the fact that children in foster care are not alone. The Bridge has trained counselors, as well as mentors who have aged out of the foster care system, and involves campers in outdoor activities, community building, and other traditional “camp” events.

To find out more about The Bridge Camp, visit this link:

https://lotcarolinas.com/programs-services/the-bridge-camp

Journey Camp

Journey Camp and Journey Junior Camp are programs sponsored by Under One Sky Village Foundation, an Asheville-based organization that provides children to children who have been or are currently in foster care.

The organization sponsors three camp weekends and one week-long overnight camp. Journey Camp serves foster children ages 11-17, while Journey Junior serves foster children ages 7-10.

Both Journey Camps include workshops for campers that allow them to learn new things, such as skills that will assist them in social and career situations. In addition, campers participate in talking circles, group discussion, team-building activities, recreational outings, and complete camp chores that teach responsibility and cooperation.

The camp lasts twelve days, and staff are highly trained counselors, along with camp mentors who have been through the foster care system. Journey Camp is held at Lutheridge Camp and Conference Center, while Journey Junior takes place at Black Mountain Children’s Home.

For more information on Journey and Journey Junior, visit the Under One Sky Village Foundation at https://www.under1sky.org/journey--junior-journey-camp.html

Royal Family KIDS

Royal Family KIDS sponsors camps for foster children ages 6-12 across the United States. These camps are sponsored by local churches and consist of a week-long camp experience that is focused on building self-esteem and healthy behaviors through a variety of activities, including hiking, sports, swimming, skits, and tea-parties.

The camp is focused on individuality, and has a 1:2 counselor-camper ratio. Churches, directors, and counselors go through intensive training to ensure that campers are in an environment that makes them feel safe and understood.

There are currently two Royal Family KIDS camps in Wake County, North Carolina: one is held at North Haven Chapel in Raleigh, while the other at Raleigh First Assembly Church.

To learn more about Royal Family KIDS, please visit their website here: https://rfk.org/camps/

Director's Update

Kimberly Scott

The past year has been a time resounding with evidence of God’s love, in deed and in truth!

During 2018, AGAPE was able to serve thirty-three foster families, license ten new foster homes, serve forty-six foster children & their families, serve six young adults and complete seven adoptions.

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Luke 6: 37-38 states: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For, with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

We are profoundly grateful for the generosity in the hearts of AGAPE supporters from all over the state! YOU managed to fill the 3rd Annual CHANGE FOR LIFE campaign with generous acts of kindness — spiritually, physically, emotionally and financially.

1 John 3:16-18 states: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.”

Finally, to sum it all up with thankfulness and gratefulness for God’s Blessings during the 3rd Annual CHANGE FOR LIFE campaign . . . YOUR open hearts led to the largest donation amount received during one of our CHANGE FOR LIFE campaigns – a total of $104,000 raised this past giving season!
Truly, AGAPE’s mission . . . YOUR mission is

“Strengthening Families One Child At A Time.”

Foster Care FAQs

Leah Tripp

As of 2017, there are 10,500 children in the North Carolina foster care system. This number has been steadily increasing over time, and the need for foster parents in North Carolina is evident.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a foster parent, AGAPE of North Carolina would love to help you begin that journey. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding foster parenting and AGAPE’s role in foster care.

1. What are AGAPE’s requirements for foster parenting?

  • Foster parents must be at least 21 years old

  • Foster parents must be in good health

  • Foster parents must be Christians

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

  •  Both parents are permitted to work outside the home.

  •  Foster parents can be single parents.

    2. What is the process for licensure?

    AGAPE abides by state regulations and agency guidelines to match children with foster families. Families who are interested in fostering will submit an application and will be contacted by a caseworker.

    The caseworker assigned to you and/or your family will begin the evaluation process, which will typically take about three months. This process will include interviews, home inspections, and background checks.

    At the end of the process, the caseworker will give your family guidelines regarding the number of children that can be in the home, the ages of the child(ren), and any specifications regarding gender or special needs.

    3. What children are in foster care?

    Most children in foster care have been removed temporarily from their homes due to a threat to their safety (i.e. abuse or neglect). Additionally, some children in foster care have been given to an adoption agency, and are in foster care during the legal process of terminating parental rights.

    The age range of children in foster care can span from newborn to 18 years old. Some children are placed individually, while others are part of a sibling group. The majority of foster children have experienced some type of physical and/or emotional trauma, and therefore are in need of a stable, loving environment, even if that home is temporary.

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4. How long will the placement be?

The time spent in foster care varies from child to child. Some children are in care for a few days, while others are in care for years. The average AGAPE placement is in care for about eight months. During the licensing process, potential foster families will be able to discuss what placement lengths are preferred for them and their family.

5. How will I prepare to foster for the first time?

You will not be walking into your first placement unprepared. During the licensing process, potential foster parents will complete 30 hours of training that is specific to the age and situation of the child who will be placed.

After fostering begins, AGAPE staff is still on-call to help with any questions or concerns, and caseworkers will routinely be visiting and checking in with you and your family to provide guidance.

6. Is there financial compensation?

While foster parenting is a volunteer-based experience, AGAPE does provide reimbursement per month, per child to compensate for expenses directly related to the child and his or her care.

This reimbursement is meant to cover the basic needs of the child, and may change depending on age or situation (for example, older children may receive a clothing allowance). Additionally, foster families are not responsible for paying for the child’s medical expenses.

7. How do I get started?

If you, or someone you know is interested in foster care, contact AGAPE of NC at 919-673-7816, or visit our website at agapeofnc.org.

Your first meeting with AGAPE is not an obligatory commitment to foster care, and will consist of talking through information to figure out if fostering is right for you and your family.

We would love to hear from you!

Staff Spotlight: Kia Carter

Leah Tripp

Kia Carter is passionate about community.

As a social worker with AGAPE of North Carolina for a little over 2 years, Carter has seen just how important relationships, community, and connection are within foster families, but also within the agency itself.

Carter’s steadfast belief in the life-giving quality of community has led her to implement several initiatives, new to AGAPE this year, to nurture growth and connection among foster families.

One of these initiatives combines education and technology, as Carter is attempting to create an online study book for foster parents who are in the process of receiving their continuing education hours. Carter’s career as a social worker has shown her just how helpful support programs like this can be for busy families.

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“I know it can be hard to get the 10 hours that they need every year to continue their licensing, so I want to try and make it as convenient as I can with information that I know will be helpful for all of our foster parents.”

Carter also speaks to the importance of AGAPE’s quarterly connection gatherings as a means for foster families to support one another. These meetings allow foster parents within the agency to meet one another and share advice and encouragement. Carter explains that these meetings allow foster parents to support one another through challenges, and celebrate together in victories.

In addition to providing community for current foster families, these gatherings also give Carter hope for the future in terms of implementing a mentoring program for new foster parents. She explains that while she, as a social worker, can offer practical advice and experience, she realizes the value in hearing from someone who has truly been where you are.

“When you have someone who has gone before you and done what you are in the process of doing it is nice to have someone to talk to that gets it.”

While the concept of a mentoring program is still in the works, Carter explains that any program that creates community has its root in the gospel, and therefore, is worth creating and cultivating within an organization like AGAPE, which Carter says functions as a family in itself. AGAPE functions like a tight-knit family, and therefore seeks to create communities for those involved with its services.

Carter ends by sharing her ultimate motivation for her upcoming initiatives: her faith.

“Community is life-giving—and essential to following Christ. Scripture says that’s because we’re better together than we are alone.”