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!

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.

Introducing AGAPE's Newest Board Member

KAREN BLAKESLEE has joined AGAPE of NC’s Board of Directors this year! With more than 15 years working in the mortgage industry (and a career as a math teacher before that), Karen is currently Prime Lending’s Executive Vice President, East Division. She brings to her work with AGAPE valuable skills and talents in the areas of fundraising, budgeting & financial management; networking & public speaking; marketing & media; and strategic planning.

Karen Blakeslee Board of Directors

Karen Blakeslee Board of Directors

“Our happiness is greatest when we contribute most to the happiness of others.”

Karen says her career in the mortgage industry is “a natural fit for my passion for helping people develop their skills, discover their gifts and fulfill their potential.

She volunteers with the Raleigh Area Habitat for Humanity initiative and is active in the NC Food Bank organization. The mother of 6 kids, ranging in age from 18 to 28, Karen also plans to volunteer with AGAPE’s Young Adults Foster Home in Raleigh.

“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.”

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: Mary Arnold, Director of Social Services

Leah Tripp

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On January 1st of 2019, Mary Arnold officially stepped into her new position as AGAPE of North Carolina’s Director of Social Services.

The position is new to AGAPE. Previously, the work done by a Director of Social Services was being carried out by Executive Director Kimberly Scott in addition to her responsibilities as director.

To delegate these responsibilities, Arnold, previously a social worker with AGAPE, began training in August to accept her upcoming role as Director of Social Services.

Arnold’s responsibilities include managing and directing AGAPE’s contracted social workers, facilitating intake of children from various counties, communicating with foster families regarding potential placements, keeping foster family files up to date, managing licenses, and being available to social workers if they need any assistance.

While Arnold admits this position has been a learning experience, her passion for the job and the people she works with is evident.

“I love it. I love being very personal and getting to know the all the social workers and so many families... I get to know them and talk with them”

In addition to working closely with social workers and families, Arnold also has a hand in deciding where a foster child should be placed, an aspect of her work that is new to this job.

Arnold explains that placing children is often a complex process; factors like age, location, family dynamics, and trauma history are all at play when she is making the decision of which family would best match a particular child.

“It’s like putting puzzle pieces together,” she remarks.

The job can be difficult, and Arnold does not shy away from this aspect of her position, explaining that getting placement calls and not being able to place children is one of the hardest parts of her job. She sees trauma and pain come through her email inbox regularly.

Despite this, Arnold says those heartbreaking emails and phone calls “remind me why I do what I do. It’s what makes me passionate about recruiting foster parents.”

This passion for children bleeds into Arnold’s personal life as well; she explains that her job has caused her and her husband to consider becoming foster parents, explaining that she cannot do the work she does and not take a moment to look at herself, to reflect on how she could be a potential solution to a problem.

When asked what she would tell potential foster parents who are afraid to take the first step into foster care, Arnold says:

“Trust in God. I know that’s so much easier to say than do... but there’s so much more reward when you take a leap of faith and go through the valleys... When you walk with these kids, when you are Jesus to them, when you come to the other side with them, you’re going to get the greatest reward.”