Every Child’s Hope

I’m very excited about an event coming up this weekend called Every Child’s Hope. It could mean great things for our foster children!

As many of you know, we have 800 foster children in care on any given day. Yet, we only have about 230 homes right now. We have lost more than 200 homes over the past five years. We rely on homes in private networks to help us, but even they are losing homes.

Having available local foster homes is important for many reasons. We do not want to move kids too far from their neighborhoods. They do better if they can stay in the same school and play with the same friends. We also want to make sure they are close enough to their biological families for regular visits. We also want to avoid breaking up siblings or overcrowding with too many unrelated children into one household.

The bottom line is, the more local foster homes we have, the better it is for children who have already had their lives turned upside down by abuse or neglect.

The Greater Cincinnati Coalition of Care, a group of Cincinnati-area churches concerned and committed to positively changing the lives of local foster children, recognized our dilemma and is trying to help. The group envisions a Greater Cincinnati where every church wraps itself around at least one child. How incredibly wonderful that would be!

So the coalition has put together Every Child’s Hope for this weekend. It is a series of events designed to draw awareness to the need for foster parents. The weekend is highlighted by national speakers and educational workshops on Saturday at Landmark Church, 1600 Glendale-Milford Road.

The speakers include:

— Chris Padbury, the executive director of Project 1.27 in Colorado. This session will provide a general overview of what every church ministry should know about the foster care system and how church and church-based ministries can effectively minister in this challenging area. Padbury is the father of six adopted children; he and his wife, Sarah, have adopted through every means possible in the United States, including international and domestic private agencies, an adoption lawyer outside the state and most recently through the Colorado foster care system.

— Bishop W. C. Martin, pastor of a Baptist church in Possum Trot, Texas, speaking on how one small church can overcome obstacles to bring love to the “least of these.” This session will tell the story of how his small Texas church of 200 has helped families adopt 80 children. Martin, who has appeared on Oprah and other television shows, wrote the best-selling book, Small Town, Big Miracle about the experience.

— Holly Schlaack, a program manager at ProKids, an agency that advocates on behalf of abused and neglected children, who has written a book called Invisible Kids, which provides an insiders look into the foster care system. In her work with ProKids, Schlaack has combined effective social work, dedicated volunteers and child development experts to create a program for abused and neglected children that serves as a model for court-appointed advocacy programs around the country. Schlaack was recently recognized by the Ohio House of Representatives for her work with Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens.

The workshops will include discussions on the process to become a foster parent, foster parents talking about their experiences, other ways to help foster children and much more. There will be kid-friendly events and nearly 40 local exhibitors who help young people will be on hand to provide information on ways to help.

If you have ever thought about becoming a foster parent, or just want to support the cause, I hope you will join us Saturday for an event that could really change the landscape for Hamilton County foster children. Visit www.everychildshope.info for more information.

See you there!

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