Someone we met last summer through mutual friends shared a link to this article on PennLive.com today (the website affiliated with the Harrisburg Patriot-News). The article features her and her husband as an example of what Bethany Christian Services is looking for in their new “Safe Families” initiative. Essentially, they are looking for families who are willing to step in to help care for children whose parents need a little time to get back on their feet. This is not foster care, at least as I read it. The state has not stepped in at all. The families in need are aware of their own need, and want help. The families that volunteer to help step in and take care of the kids for a month or more while the parents get housing, income, or whatever else they need situated. This is an attempt to keep these families out of the foster care system, and reduce the strain on that system. There are examples in the article of this working in other states, and now Bethany Christian Services is attempting to bring it to the Harrisburg region. This seems like a pretty cool idea. I haven’t checked out all of the details to see what types of resources (money, clothes, car seats, etc.) is provided by Bethany vs. supplied by the volunteers, but it seems like a pretty awesome way for those who are not able or willing to foster/adopt to still be involved in ministry to these at-risk kids. You can check out more from Bethany’s own website, or from safe-families.org.
For more on what churches can do to support foster/adoptive families (and I think this applies for “Safe Families” as well), here are ten things from David Wooten (posted at ligonier.org. Check out the post for details of the items on this list!
5. GIVE6. GO
8. ADOPT OR FOSTER
Wooten leaves us with these thoughts:
The Bible says that “true and undefiled religion in the eyes of God the Father is to care for orphans and widows in their distress” There is no clearer picture of the gospel than that of adoption. God took us when we were slaves to sin and brought us into His forever family to become His children. When you become involved in the ministry of adoption and orphan care, you are displaying the glorious gospel for the world to see. Regardless of how you are involved, by engaging in caring for orphans in their distress, you are practicing true and undefiled religion. Yours can be an investment that can impact many lives and will last a lifetime and beyond.
For people affiliated with Mechanicsburg BIC, you can find out more about this program by contacting John King through the church. He is in contact with Elaine Shank from Bethany about this program. He has talked with Elaine and has attended one of their Safe Families informational sessions. This is a program that our family is very seriously considering. It is NOT foster care so you eliminate many of the regulations that hinder much of the foster care system. Elaine is also going to be leading an adoption support group at the church and we’re looking forward to the services this will provide to the many foster and adoptive families in our church and community.