Guest post from Tom Troth, KBC Legislative Agent: HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES STUDY GROUP ON ADOPTION
On March 10, 2017, Governor Bevin and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services held “A Summit to Save Our Children” in Frankfort. The summit was Governor’s official expression of his ongoing commitment to streamline the Foster Care/Adoption process in the Commonwealth. This initiative should be particularly exciting for Kentucky Baptists. At that summit Governor Bevin issued a call to mobilize a network of non-profits, faith-based organizations, and loving families to “take a stand to ensure all children in the Commonwealth are safe, cared for and loved.”
Our Executive Director, Dr. Paul Chitwood, gave the invocation for this important event, and he and his wife Michelle’s experience in providing Foster Care was a featured video at the Summit.
As a part of this initiative, the Health and Family Services Cabinet has commissioned an in-depth study of the Adoption/Foster Care process by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Recommendations from the Foundation to make the entire system more efficient by the removal of barriers to foster care and adoption will be forthcoming. This study will result in a legislative package to be considered at the 2018 legislative session.
As Kentucky Baptist’s representative at the Capital, it is my intent to be as helpful as possible to the Health and Family Services Cabinet as the legislative package is developed for introduction at the 2018 session. The streamlining of the adoption process will also be studied by a working group made up of legislators in the Kentucky House of Representatives. I intend to speak out to members of the House and Senate to express our support for these efforts to make the Foster Care/Adoption process more flexible and efficient.
WHAT CAN KENTUCKY BAPTISTS DO IMMEDIATELY?
It was pointed out at the Summit, that there are children in Out of Home Care that don’t always have safe and appropriate places to sleep at night. One of the suggestions made by the Cabinet was that churches and other non-profits purchase portable cribs (Pack N. Plays) and provide them to the Cabinet to be issued to families as needed. That is certainly something that almost any size church could do immediately.
Providing a portable crib to families that need them is just one small way we can be involved, but there’s so much more that needs to be done. According to the data provided at the Summit, as of February 6, 2017, there were 7,917 children in Out Of Home Care. While it was pointed out that there is an ongoing need for additional Foster Care families in all categories, the Cabinet outlined specific areas of need, including:
- Homes accepting sibling groups
- Homes accepting children ages 19 and up
- Homes with African American Parents
- Homes with Hispanic Parents
- Homes accepting medically complex children
Other areas of need associated with the provision of Foster Care include:
- Recruitment of Foster families
- Respite services
- Training supports (sites, childcare, flexile locations and hours)
- Visitation services
- Provision of goods
- Supports to those aging out of care
- Mentoring to biological families
- Fatherhood engagement
- Supports to kinship, foster and adoptive parents
James 1:27 tells us: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans … in their distress.” How can we not be involved in fulfilling this Biblical mandate?
Please make our involvement in the Governor’s Foster Care/Adoption initiative and the House of Representatives’ study group a matter of prayer. Pray that the goal to “ensure all children in the Commonwealth are safe, cared for and loved” would be achieved.
If you have any questions about the Open Hearts/Open Homes initiative or the House of Representatives study group, feel free to contact me at [email protected], or call me on my cell phone at (502) 330-5024. I would be honored to speak with you.