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.”

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.”

Prayer and Challenge for 2019

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By Kimberly Scott

Matthew 22:36-40 says “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” I started out with this verse because God’s hand has been in the hearts of fellow christians, of our communities, of commercial businesses and of our government by the ways that they’ve responded to the many natural disasters that have occurred this year.

Christians and communities alike have banded together to help the individuals/families/businesses that have been affected by fires in California, hurricane Michael, hurricane Florence, earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, flooding in Japan just to name a few for 2018. While these natural disasters have been physically devastating, it has also been a reminder of Gods spirit of love and compassion that has infected humanity across the world.

God used these events to remind us how tenuous our plans can be but also to remind us and the world of what really matters when others are hurting and in need.

Businesses and governmental aid have come to the rescue. Several well known businesses such as Wal Mart, Home Depot, GoFundMe, Starbucks and Walgreens are a few who have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to disaster relief. Governmental agencies that are there at ground zero ready to lend aid, risk their lives and delve into danger for others include FEMA, the Red Cross and numerous First responders.

My prayer and challenge for 2019 is that, as quick and fierce as humankind rises to the challenge with the natural disasters that have been talked about above, they will see, they will feel and they will act for the devastation of parentless children and hurting families that are a part of the mission of AGAPE. Strengthening Families One Child at a Time.

Staff Profile: Meet Social Worker Marilyn Bredon

By Jordan Upton

When speaking with Marilyn Bredon, two things become apparent: her love of working with children and her faith in God. These pillars in her life led her, in January 2018, to join Agape of NC as a social worker II.

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Marilyn has been an advocate for children since she was a child herself. As a Christmas gift when she was young, Marilyn was given a doll and named it Baby Sister. She knows that her parents had entertained the idea of adoption on their own, but with her insistence of wanting a baby sister, they adopted a two year old girl when Marilyn was five. When completing the adoption paperwork, five year old Marilyn piped up to give their home address and phone number, feeling very included in her sister’s adoption.

Marilyn and her sister, like their parents before them, grew up in the Church of Christ. Marilyn participated in youth group, and when she was old enough she became a leader in the children’s church Sunday morning service. She was also a leader during Vacation Bible Schools and taught bible study. In college, she ran a “Mothers Morning Out” program. Marilyn’s work with children has truly been a lifelong calling.

After college, Marilyn moved to North Carolina with her husband. While living in Durham and working for Durham County Child Protective Services, they had three children. A job opportunity moved them to Virginia, where their fourth child was born. Marilyn swears this move was all God.

In Virginia, she was diagnosed with ocular cancer. She had an ocular melanoma wrapped completely around her optic nerve. Fortunately, one of the nation’s leading doctors with that expertise was working in Richmond. Marilyn was his last surgical patient. When the job opportunity turned out not to be what their family expected, and they moved back to North Carolina, Marilyn realized God’s real purpose in moving them to Virginia - that specific place at that specific time- was so this doctor could save her life. She has been cancer-free since 2001.

Upon their move back to North Carolina, Marilyn spoke with Nicole Spickard, whose father started AGAPE. She applied in the fall of 2017 and officially started work in January 2018.

There is no such thing as a typical day in her work. What families and children need may change every day, depending on who is involved and what is happening. She was the social worker for Salem House, and is currently working with two other families that are fostering children. She may be visiting, calling, texting, and/or emailing the foster parents on any given day to discuss the children in their care. If there are older teenagers currently in care, she’ll check in with them via texts and calls too. Marilyn also helps people who are working to become licensed foster parents or renew their licenses. Some days are hectic - like during the recent July Fourth holiday when she needed to find last minute respite care after late notice of closure from a daycare. But other days, like when she receives adorable school pictures of happy children in care, balance it out.

My Reflective Experiences with AGAPE

By Jordan Upton

As the school year begins again and my summer interning with AGAPE of N.C. draws to a close, I felt it would be appropriate to reflect on my experiences working with the organization. I feel incredibly blessed to have had the privilege of working with AGAPE. Everyone involved with the organization is compassionate, helpful, knowledgeable, and each person cares about the work they do and the children they help. This is true about every staff member from the social workers such as Marilyn Bredon, to the Board of Directors members like Joe Hall, to the executive director Kim Scott.

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Not only do the staff members work tirelessly to promote the mission of AGAPE, but the volunteers, donors, and community members work just as hard and are just as passionate about helping children find loving homes. Take 11-year-old Meredith Finch, for example, who began selling lemonade in her town to raise money to donate to AGAPE. People like that are special, and they recognize that the people at AGAPE are special, too.

When I began working with AGAPE, I had not heard of them and I knew very little about adoption and foster care experiences. Now, by having spoken with those who have adopted, been adopted, and foster children themselves, I have grown a deep appreciation and respect for these people.

I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to get to know everyone involved with AGAPE, and for all of the people I was able to speak with who were so open and honest about their experiences, and for the chance to share their stories with the public. I only hope I was able to convey their messages and stories in a meaningful way and that they were heard and appreciated by those who read them as much as I appreciated hearing and sharing them. I am excited about the future of AGAPE and can not wait to see what the future has in store for everyone involved.

Why You are So Important!

By Kimberly Scott

Director of AGAPE of NC

In 2017, experts warned that North Carolina’s foster care system is in a predicament. The state’s Division of Social Services began noticing in late 2012 that the number of children coming into foster care was exceeding the number exiting the system. With over 11,000 children in NC already in foster homes, our foster care rate is reportedly the highest it has been in the last 10 years and is steadily rising. Many causes factor into the situation:

  • physical and mental trauma, abuse or neglect;

  • parental substance abuse, including the opioid crisis

    we hear so much about;

  • parental incarceration;

  • a reduction in federal funds for mental health services.

    The bottom line is that the number of children currently in our North Carolina foster care system is rising faster than the number of foster families available to support them. It is AGAPE’s Christ-focused mission to fill as much of that gap as possible with Christian counseling and foster homes where these children will be loved and come to know Jesus.

At present, AGAPE of NC has over 30 kids in care with our 25 foster families. Thankfully, we are blessed with another 25 new families pursuing licensure right now. We also have at least a dozen families providing respite foster care. But AGAPE needs more of YOU because the children need more from us.

So, when AGAPE of NC asks YOU to

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  • consider becoming a foster parent or a respite care provider;

  • donate items or funds needed to supply SALEM HOUSE;

  • start saving your spare change now because AGAPE’s 3rd Annual CHANGE FOR LIFE! fundraising campaign will kick off in September 2018;

  • volunteer your time & talents; and

  • pray for AGAPE and those who need us...

    know it is ALL for the children and families God wants us to serve. “And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

Staff Profile: Meet AGAPE of NC's Director, Kim Scott

By Jordan Upton

Executive Director Kimberly Scott knows that her involvement with AGAPE was not her plan, but God’s. As a young girl, Kim often told her family that she wanted a job for God, and took comfort in her mother’s response that “we all have a job for God.” This thinking led her to a life of service and helping others.

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Originally from Texas, Kim earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. Her husband, an engineer, received calls from headhunters and was offered jobs around the world. She was pregnant when her husband asked if she’d rather move to North Carolina or Germany. With two toddlers and another baby on the way, Kim thought it best to stay in the States. She envisioned the move to North Carolina as a starting point for a life of travel; they would stay a couple years then check out other places. But things don’t always go as we plan, and 19 years later Kim is still enjoying life in NC.

After relocating to NC, Kim was lucky to stay home with her children until they all began school. At that time, she started her own private practice. One day, her minister walked into the office with a new client. Until then, her minister didn’t know that she was a licensed clinical social worker. After seeing her practice and learning of her qualifications, Kim’s minister approached her about AGAPE. He was on the organization’s board of directors and the search committee for a new executive director.

Kim wasn’t looking for a job. She had been in practice for years and had about 15 people working for her. She said, “I was doing great where I was,” and even joked, “I had a great boss - me!”
But after several interviews where she learned more about the meaning and mission of AGAPE, Kim found herself thinking ‘if they’ll have me, I am here.’ When they officially offered her the position of executive director in October 2013, Kim said, “Of course! Of course, I’m going to take this job. No, wasn’t even an option.”

Nearly five years into her role as executive director, Kim says, “I feel truly blessed to be part of this organization, and just to be able to be part of people’s lives in such a profound way.”

Kim has a hand in every aspect of AGAPE - making presentations about foster care, raising awareness, recruiting foster families and board members. She manages the staff and helps with financial planning. She receives calls daily about kids needing placement and works to find a match for them. In short, she does everything she can to fulfill AGAPE’s mission of strengthening families through compassionate Christian outreach.

Staff Profile: Meet Kaye Orander

by Lydia Huth

Administrative assistant Kaye Orander has known about AGAPE of N.C. since she was in college. However, it was after thirty years working as a corporate law paralegal that she grew interested in working for a nonprofit and found her way to AGAPE’s door. “AGAPE,” Orander said, was “right there in my church—right on my doorstep.” While there were no staff positions available at that time, volunteers were needed, and so she stepped up.

When Orander was asked to move from volunteering into her current staff position, it was daunting. “I said, ‘I will try,’” Orander recalled. “It has definitely gotten me out of my comfort zone and stretched me.”

In her day to day work, Orander performs a wide variety of administrative duties. She works with the technical side of donations, through populating the growing donor management database and tracking financial contributions. However, you will also find her alongside volunteers, taking part in sending thank-you notes to AGAPE’s supporters, collecting and delivering backpacks with overnight essentials for foster kids, and helping churches plan how to celebrate the foster families in their midst.

Interacting with the donors and volunteers, Orander says, is one of her favorite parts of working with AGAPE. “Working with AGAPE’s supporters has been a joy. I get to see and encourage their enthusiasm, and I get to listen to their stories,” she said. “I’ve been told about unplanned pregnancies, counseling, and how that’s impacted people and their families. I believe some people just need to share their stories, and I feel privileged and honored to hear them.”

Staff Profile: Meet Jerry Sprague

By Lydia Huth

When Jerry Sprague, AGAPE’s Social Service Supervisor, was in college, he didn’t see counseling in his future. He intended to become a veterinarian but ended up studying forestry. Degree in hand, Sprague spent thirty years researching forestry genetics on North Carolina State University’s faculty. It was after he became a Christian that he found himself pulled towards counseling.

“I became more interested in relationships after I found Christ,” Sprague explained. “Though, for a while, I was a little scared of social sciences… they could be anti-Christian.” Despite his uncertainty, Sprague did follow the call. He took one class a year at N.C. State—one of his benefits as a faculty member—and eventually completed the credits for his masters in counseling. Not long afterward, his minister called him and let him know that AGAPE was looking for counselors. That began Sprague’s twenty-five years at AGAPE of N.C.

As for his move into social work, it was less difficult than the jump from forestry to social science. “You basically use the same skills in social work and counseling,” Sprague said. “You use active listening, you use reflection techniques. A lot of basic counseling skills transition over to social work—listening and communication skills especially.”

Now, as the Social Service Supervisor, Sprague oversees one of the regions that AGAPE services. He supervises AGAPE’s social workers for that region, but will also have families that he interacts with directly. When working with the families, Sprague will be involved with training them for foster care and meeting with them regularly, as well as performing a quarterly review. “It’s a lot of paperwork,” Sprague explains. “A lot of attention to detail.”

Sometimes when working within his region, Sprague practically becomes a part of the family. For example, there was one family that fostered to adoption through AGAPE, taking in two infants and a child who had previously suffered severe abuse. Even now as the children grow up, Sprague still keeps in touch with them. “The kids still call me Uncle Jerry,” he said with a smile.