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.

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.

AGAPE Family to Open 2019 CBC Bluegrass Festival

By Lisa Brewer, Executive Director for the Festival

The 8th Annual Carolina Bible Camp Bluegrass Festival in Mocksville, NC is scheduled for Saturday, September 14, 2019!

We are excited that this year the CBC Bluegrass Festival will have a special guest opening the popular one-day event. An AGAPE of North Carolina family will be invited to lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance that morning!

For the 3rd year in a row, AGAPE of NC will also 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, up cycled creative craft projects, Bible pages, and a free standing Kids Paint wall.

AGAPE of NC will have a separate vendor tent to provide information about the organization’s programs and services.

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“We are very thankful for the special relationship CBC has with AGAPE. Both Carolina Bible Camp and AGAPE are all about serving children and their families. The festival gives us an opportunity to join forces and serve together.”

~ CBC Board Member and Festival Chairman, Gregory J. Brewer

Artists appearing at this year’s CBC Bluegrass Festival include:

  • Grammy award winner, Dom Flemons {pictured}

  • Terry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive

  • The Kevin Prater Band

  • His & Hers

    Visit www.cbcbluegrass.com to purchase tickets for the
    CBC Bluegrass Festival or to participate as a sponsor or vendor.

    All profits from the Festival benefit the Carolina Bible Campcapital development and scholarship funds.

“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.”

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.”

How Can My Church Serve Foster Children and Families?

Leah Tripp

While not everyone within a church will be called to be a full-time foster parent, there are other ways that your church can care for foster families and show Christ’s love to children in foster care. In addition to praying fervently for foster children and their families, churches can also serve in the following ways. 

Respite Care Teams

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Respite care providers are trained individuals who can offer babysitting services to full-time foster care parents. Respite care is important to the overall wellness of foster parents and their children, and provides a qualified, consistent support system for families. AGAPE of North Carolina offers training courses for respite parents. If someone in your church or small group is a full-time foster parent, consider supporting them through respite care. 

Mentoring

There are several programs in North Carolina and across the country that recruit mentors for older children and young adults in foster care. Mentors can make connections with foster youth and guide them in a variety of ways, including tutoring, job skills, college readiness, emotional wellness, and many other healthy lifestyle habits. Encourage your church family to serve foster children by signing up for a mentoring program. 

AGAPE of NC is licensing Young Adult Foster Homes that are in need of mentors from local congregations. To learn more about this opportunity, email Mary Arnold at marnold@agapeofnc.org. 

Care Packages

Care packages can be helpful for both foster children and potential foster families. There are a variety of organizations that sponsor care packages for children in care. Programs like Comfort Cases and Project Shoe Box provide care packages and/or suitcases with hygiene items, books, school supplies, and toys to children and youth in foster care. Churches can donate supplies and/or completed care packages to organizations such as these. 

Care packages can also be helpful for foster parents. Foster care placements can often come at short notice, which means new foster parents may be lacking in supplies for the child they just received. Consider having items like diapers, gift cards, and other necessities ready for any foster families in your community or congregation. 

The “Little Things” 

If there’s one thing I’ve heard consistently from my conversations with people involved in foster care, it’s that scheduling and time management can be really difficult. Foster parenting is a time commitment, which can make it easy for smaller tasks to fall to the wayside. If you know someone who is a foster parent, offer to bring them a hot meal, cut their grass, or pick up their groceries. Small acts of kindness go a long way, and there’s no telling how grateful someone will be to have the “little things” taken care of. 



What Happens After 18?: Aging Out of Foster Care

Leah Tripp

I remember the excitement I felt leading up to March of 2016.

I was turning 18, and I felt like I had the whole world in front of me. I was a senior in high school, I knew where I was going to college, and I felt like I had plenty of options open to me as I moved forward into legal “adulthood.”

18th birthdays should be full of promise and expectation, but for many young adults in America, turning 18 marks a time of great uncertainty.

Each year, over 23,000 children age out of the US foster care system.

Aging out of foster care can be traumatic for a variety of reasons. From a logistical standpoint, many children who age out of foster care become effectively homeless the day they turn 18 if they do not have a support system that is willing to provide them care and housing. According to the National Foster Youth Institute, homelessness impacts 20% of youth who age out of foster care.

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For those who avoid the immediate threat of homelessness, there are a range of other obstacles related to employment, education, and emotional health.

Youth who age out of foster care go to college at a significantly lower rate, as they may not have adults who are willing to guide them through application processes, academic requirements, and required testing.

Their lack of participation in post-secondary education is not due to lack of ability, but to lack of awareness.

In terms of employment, 50% of foster children who age out of the system will have gainful employment by the age of 24. Statistically, the other half of these youth will struggle to maintain stable jobs. The lack of consistent employment can contribute to cyclic patterns that keep foster youth from being able to own their own homes, pursue educational opportunities, or achieve career advancements.

Ultimately, foster youth are in great need of those willing to guide them, care for them, and invest in their lives and growth.

This care can come in the form of full-time foster parenting, mentoring, respite care, or volunteering.

Many Young Adult Foster Homes are beginning to address the challenges associated with aging out by providing care and guidance to foster youth ages 18-21.

These homes allow those who have technically “aged out” to have time to develop necessary skills and a support system in a familial setting.

If you are interested in learning more about helping foster youth, or about Young Adult Foster Homes, visit agapeofnc.org

Opening the Door: Young Adult Foster Homes

Leah Tripp

A home in Raleigh, North Carolina is seeking to meet a need that many do not realize exists within foster care: young adult foster homes. 

Mary Arnold, Director of Social Services for AGAPE of North Carolina, explained that while many people associate foster care with a 0-17 age bracket, they often “do not realize that there are 18 to 21 year olds in care that need a home as well.” 

The home in Raleigh seeks to meet this need by providing a foster home for 18-21 year old girls, hoping to give them stability and a jumping off point from which to pursue personal, educational, and career goals. 

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Currently, the home consists of a foster mother and two young women. Arnold makes monthly visits to the home, checking in with the girls and their foster mother. These visits consist of talking to the girls about various aspects of their lives, including schooling, employment, social adjustment, and the living situation within the house. 

While the house is technically a foster home, Arnold acknowledges that the day-to-day functioning of the home works differently since the residents are adults. Unlike younger foster children, the girls have the option choose this foster home. They have chosen to commit to living in the home, understanding that they have the freedom to “pack their bags and go.”

One of the most interesting aspects of young adult foster homes lies in the mutual investment of both parties; Arnold explains that girls can, and have, interviewed the foster mother and the managing foster care agency in order to determine whether or not the home is the right fit. The foster mother also has the opportunity to interview the girls as well, creating a mutual relationship of interest and understanding. 

Arnold also explains that the need for any and all foster parents is also growing, explaining that she has received quite a few calls regarding children as of late that she has not been able to accept or place due to the lack of available foster homes. 

Finally, when asked what she wants people to understand about young adults in foster care, Arnold states:

“They have so much to give. They are full of love, but they have been hurt, so there’s not a lot of trust there at first. But once you open the door to them, they have so much to give that it is endless. We need to support them so they can be the people that God created them to be.” 

Young Adult Foster Homes

By Mary Arnold

We are committed to providing these young women with the support they need to assist them in becoming the independent, strong women that God created them to be (Psalm 139:13).

Have you ever wondered what happens to teens when they turn 18 and “age out” of the foster care system?
The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 provided a provision that allows states to receive federal money for programs associated with supporting young adults who choose to remain in foster care up to the age of 21. North Carolina is one of 25 states to extend foster care beyond 18 years of age.

AGAPE of NC opened Young Adult Foster Homes in October of this year for young ladies aged 18-21. We are committed to providing these young women with the support they need to assist them in becoming the independent, strong women that God created them to be (Psalm 139:13).

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The young ladies will all be working on different goals while residing at Young Adult Foster Homes. Some will be finishing up high school. Others will be going to college or working to save money to buy a car or rent their own place to live.

Ms. Fay Evans, who has a passion for helping young women and assisting them with the transition to the next phase of their lives, is our resident Foster Parent for our Young Adult Foster Homes located in Raleigh. Ms. Evans has worked with teen girls for over 20 years. She prays for each girl daily -- those who are in her care and those who will be coming into her care. She prays for God’s direction and wisdom in leading the young ladies toward independence.

AGAPE needs additional women volunteers for Young Adult Foster Homes. Ms. Evans will need respite care providers for the home, and we would also like to have mentors from congregations in the area for each young girl. If you have an interest in volunteering at Young Adult Foster Homes please contact Mary Arnold by email at: marnold@agapeofnc.org or by phone at: 919.673.7816.

5 Myths About Foster Care

By Leah Tripp

The conversation surrounding foster care can often contain misconceptions or inaccuracies that can make fostering seem intimidating or impossible for potential foster parents. The following article will debunk five common myths associated with foster care. 

Myth 1: “I have to be married to foster a child” 

There is no marital requirement associated with foster parenting. In fact, according to The Foster Coalition, 30% of foster parents are single. Foster parents can (and do) come from a variety of backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and stages of life. To learn more about what AGAPE of NC requires of foster parents, click here

Myth 2: “I have to be wealthy” or “it’s expensive to adopt”

In contrast to some international and private domestic adoptions, the process of adopting through foster care is essentially free. Many agencies, such as AGAPE of NC, offer free trainings, financial reimbursement, and ongoing support for foster families. In addition, many states and government programs provide tax credits or reduced costs for foster children and their families.  

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Myth 3: “I have to be willing to adopt to be a foster parent”

While adoption can be an option for foster parents, it is not a requirement. The ideal goal for foster children is permanency, which can be found in the form of reunification with parents, kinship care, long-term fostering, or adoption. Respite care is also an option for individuals who are interested in providing short-term care only.  

Myth 4: “I need to have children/parenting experience” 

While parents with children are more than welcome to become foster parents, there are many foster parents who do not have children of their own, and have never parented prior to their participation in the foster care system. Many foster care organizations, including AGAPE, provide training for potential foster parents, as well as ongoing support groups and sessions for new foster parents.

Myth 5: “Foster parents have no say in which children are placed in their home”

Foster parents reserve the right to say “no” to any potential placement for any reason. AGAPE, and many other foster care agencies, also allow parents to express preferences regarding the children they feel comfortable accepting as placements. Foster parents will never be forced to accept a child into their care. 

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that there is no equation or situation that creates the “perfect” foster parent. Children in foster care need stability, compassion, and support. If you feel that you can provide a loving home for a child in foster care, please visit https://www.agapeofnc.org/foster-care/ or call AGAPE of NC at (919)673-7816. 

Appreciation for Volunteers and Ways to Get Involved

We are extremely grateful for the work our volunteers perform and the ways they minister to AGAPE of NC! We try to make each volunteer’s experience enjoyable by offering opportunities that match individual skills, interests, and passions.

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Some of our current volunteer projects involve working “behind the scenes,” helping with many administrative tasks while other volunteers take on jobs where they may become a “face and spokesperson” for AGAPE. Areas where AGAPE heavily relies on our wonderful volunteers include:

Foster Care Backpack Volunteers

These folks organize donation drives; collect, inventory and store donations; periodically coordinate a group to fill AGAPE’s backpacks with those donations; and deliver the filled AGAPE backpacks to Department of Social Services Offices in various counties a few times a year.

Beth Storms, Kenitra Williams, Teresa Jenkins, and Carol Woollens (together with a lot of other helpful servants) have been instrumental in helping us to grow this ministry.

Newsletter Contributors

We are always looking for newsletter content and welcome anyone who has a foster care and/or adoption story to write and submit an article. We express appreciation to some of our recurring authors: Kia Carter, Erica Asbury, Lydia Huth, Beth Storms, and Jordan Upton.

Time and talents shared by Angela Hardison are also invaluable. For the last couple of years, she has diligently worked on lay out, editing, and printing of AGAPE’s newsletters.

Mail Distribution Administrators

Although AGAPE delivers our newsletter & other information via email to those of you who have e-subscribed, the numberof people interested in AGAPE continues to grow. So, we still send a lot of mail through the postal service.

We appreciate Latrelle Dechene, Mallory Scott, and JaimeTodd for all their work stuffing, folding, stickering, labelling, stamping, and going to the Post Office.

Event Planners & Hospitality Coordinators

Volunteers from all over North Carolina coordinate AGAPE events at their churches and in their communities to raise awareness about the needs of the children, teens and families AGAPE serves. We recognize we could not do it without these tireless individuals.

If you would like to Volunteer with AGAPE of NC in one of the capacities described above, or if you have other ideas about ways you want to get involved, please contact Kaye Orander at korander@agapeofnc.org or 919-810-7178. She would love to talk with you about having a vital impact on AGAPE’s mission to serve children and families in North Carolina.

Why We Do Respite

Your donations support and equip foster families in your community who are opening their loving, Christian homes right now to children in need. Other Christian families assist them in this mission work by occasionally providing respite. Please watch & listen as the Williams family shares why they became Respite Providers.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 of 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 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 919-673-7816for 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.orgfor more information and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with news and relevant information.

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.

Higher Education for Foster Care Youth

By Jordan Upton

Research has shown that youth in foster care are less likely to continue on to college compared to other high school graduates. Of those who do enroll in college, many do not make it through to obtain a degree.

In efforts to help boost student success, programs such as NC Reach have been established. NC Reach is a state-funded scholarship offered to qualified applicants for up to 4 years of undergraduate study at any of the 74 NC public colleges and universities. Qualified applicants are North Carolina residents, and were either adopted from the NC Division of Social Services (DSS) foster care after the age of 12 or aged out of NC DSS foster care at age 18.

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In addition to scholarship funds that cover tuition and fees, NC Reach provides emotional supports that students may not otherwise have in their personal lives. Students are matched with a coordinator who helps them academically and personally navigate higher education. They can also request a personal coach, or mentor, who will be there to support and encourage them throughout their collegiate experience. Students will receive three care packages per year and are eligible to participate in the Foster Care to Success InternAmerica Program.

Programs such as NC Reach are making higher education more attainable for all students.

http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2017/12/07/for-foster-care-kids-college-degrees-are-elusive http://www.ncreach.org

Helping School-aged Children in Care

By Jordan Upton

Did you know. . .

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●  Children in foster care are far more likely to change schools during the school year, to be in special education classes, and to fail to receive passing grades than their general population counterparts.

●  High school dropout rates are 3 times higherfor foster youth than other low-income children

●  Only about 50% of youth in foster care will graduate from high school

●  Over 40% of school-aged children in foster care have educational difficulties

How can you help?

●  Donate school supplies so that students are well-prepared and have one less worry

●  Become a school volunteer to support and encourage youth in the classroom

●  Offer tutoring services for struggling students

●  Become a foster parent and advocate for the most vulnerable children every day

If you’d like to get involved and help promote the educational success of these children, please contact AGAPE today!

Facts from the National Foster Youth Institute: https://www.nfyi.org/issues/education/

How Teachers Can Help

By Jordan Upton

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With 70% of children in foster care being of school age, what can teachers do to help?

There is a chance that teachers will not know if any of their students are in foster care or have been adopted, but there are general steps they can take to ensure the safety and happiness of each student in their classroom, regardless of their home life.

  1. Normalize Foster Care and Adoption

    Teachers can incorporate books and lessons that talk about foster care and adoption. Making students aware of different family arrangements and living situations can help any potential foster or adopted children feel more comfortable talking to their teachers, peers, and school administration.

  2. Learn About Student Backgrounds

    Learning about each student in the classroom can help teachers better meet each student’s individual needs. Many students who have been in foster care will experience learning difficulties from shuffling schools and missing too many days. Understanding the reasons behind each child’s difficulties can help teachers create better plans to engage these students.

  3. Build Relationships

    Quickly building positive relationships with students can help them gain self-confidence and feel secure in your classroom. It will be helpful for students, especially those who have traumatic lives outside of school, to know that someone cares for them. Since teachers see their students five days a week, it is important for the students to have trust and respect for this important role model.

  4. Become an Advocate

    Some recommend that teachers become licensed foster parents to better understand what these students may be facing. Teachers who are licensed foster parents may be able to ease the transitions by fostering students from their school, so the students would not have to relocate and potentially fall behind. They could offer a sense of stability. If becoming a licensed foster parent is not possible, teachers could still advocate for training and education for all school personnel to be better equipped to deal with students in foster care and their specific needs.

5 Ways Teachers Can Help https://www.thornwell.org/5-ways-teachers-can-help-students-foster-care/

10 Ways Teachers Can Help http://redtri.com/10-ways-teachers-can-help-students-from-foster-care/slide/1

North Carolina Foster Youth and School

By Jordan Upton

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Children entering foster care are dealing with drastic changes in their home lives. They are usually removed quickly and have experienced some sort of trauma. 70% of children in care are of school age. In his article, Foster Youth & School: The Ongoing Struggles, Dr. John DeGarmo explains that these children “often miss a great deal of school, as their foster parents and case workers attend to duties such as enrolling the child into school, meeting with counselors and psychologists, and giving the child time to adequately adjust to the new living situation.”

On the UNC School of Government blog, assistant professor Sara DePasquale writes about the impact of school mobility: “Children in care who transfer schools lose four to six months of academic progress with each change in school placement. Children in foster care are more likely to be retained, suspended, and/or expelled; drop out; and perform poorly on standardized tests. In addition to the academic disruption, children who move schools also lose natural supports that exist in their original school, such as siblings, peers, or trusted adults like teachers, counselors, and/or coaches.”

In April 2017, the North Carolina DHHS Division of Social Services implemented an educational stability policy for children in foster care. It requires that every child in the custody of NC welfare agencies must have a plan for educational stability that addresses school stability, school enrollment, educational needs and services, and documentation regarding educational stability. The family services manual explains:

“Educational stability promotes educational success so children in agency custody continue their education without disruption, maintain important relationships, and have the opportunity to achieve college and career readiness. The emphasis of this policy is to minimize the number of school changes for each child and when a school change is unavoidable ensure each child is enrolled in a timely manner. Decisions regarding educational stabilitymust be based on what is in each child’s best interest.”

While there are always improvements to be made, this policy is a step in the right direction for caring for North Carolina’s youth in foster care and their educational needs.

https://www.fosterfocusmag.com/articles/foster-youth-school-ongoing-struggles https://civil.sog.unc.edu/school-stability-for-children-in-foster-care/ https://www2.ncdhhs.gov/info/olm/manuals/dss/csm-10/man/1201sXIII.pdf