Every day, children who have already suffered the trauma of being removed from their home face the additional trauma of being separated from their siblings. This situation is commonplace all over Florida, but it doesn’t have to be. Through innovative foster care programs like Foster Family Homes ministry at Florida Baptist Children’s Homes (FBCH), churches and communities can partner to keep siblings together.
A New Model of Foster Care
In addition to FBCH’s traditional foster care and residential care on one of six FBCH campuses, FBCH has launched a new foster care program called Foster Family Homes. This ministry provides foster care in private residential homes owned by FBCH or other partnering non-profit organizations. Residences in the Foster Family Homes ministry can serve up to five children and parents must be willing to take children of any age from infancy to age 17, allowing them to serve more children and keep siblings together. This aspect of the program is unlike traditional foster care programs that are often able to place only one or two children in a home and allow parents to specify what ages of children they are willing to take. “Offering hurting children loving and Christian care in Foster Family Homes ministry gives them stability and a sense of belonging to a family,” said Charlie Cox, Vice President of Programs for FBCH. “It will absolutely bring comfort, security and hope to the lives of more children.” Just like regular foster parents, parents in the Foster Family Homes ministry pay for utilities and basic necessities for the children. Unlike regular foster parents, though, Foster Family Homes parents do not have to pay rent and many supplies are provided through donations and community support. “This is a huge advantage to parents who feel Christ’s calling to care for children but may lack the resources to do so,” said Kyle Luke, FBCH Panhandle Area Administrator.
Changing Children’s Lives
Born out of a desire to get involved in missions, Joe and Tammy Bush became Foster Family Homes parents in Marianna three years ago. Tammy Bush describes her experience as a foster parent as life-changing. “It’s very rewarding to do something positive in the life of a child who is facing major challenges,” she said. She has witnessed foster children and their parents come to Christ and has kept in touch with many of them, including a teen mother who recently regained custody of her daughter through determination and hard work. “Foster parents don’t always get to see the fruits of their efforts,” she said, “but we are planting seeds today that, over time, change lives.”
More Foster Families Needed
Currently, the Foster Family Homes ministry has a house in Tallahassee and in Marianna, Florida, and is expanding with new locations in Gainesville and Bradenton. Construction has begun in Gainesville, and the Bradenton property is expected to open in 2013.
If you are interested in becoming a Foster Family Homes parent, please contact Vickie Belcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or (863) 687-8811 to find out more.