On Thursday, May 31st, nearly 50 representatives from local churches, the Children’s Administration and support agencies gathered for our 6th Foster Support Faith Alliance Gathering at First Free Methodist Church. Attendees were inspired by efforts towards engaging foster care by Matthew Savage, pastor of Journey Church in Everett. Matthew challenged us, the church, and our congregation members to step out of our comfort zones and care for vulnerable children in foster care.
We also heard a report on our Brave eventfor teen girls in foster care from pastor Lisa Barnes, as well as a plea for churches who might be interested in co-hosting this annual event next year.
Tracy Rubstello joined us for the first time to tell us about a new ministry opportunity with Bridge Receiving Center- a 30-day receiving program for children when they first come into foster care. Bridge is starting construction on their pilot program up in Lake Stevens this summer and soon will be able to offer a camp-like setting for kids coming into foster care while an appropriate foster home placement can be found for them. Children will receive professional care, counseling, education and health services as well as anything else needed to begin their journey into the foster care system.
Bridge is in need of volunteer help this summer with construction, furniture donations, and financial support, as well as a number of volunteers throughout the school year to form relationships with these kids and potentially teach them beneficial life skills (art, gardening, etc…) If you’re interested in supporting this endeavor financially or volunteering your time this summer or next school year, please email Tracy Rubstellofor more information.
Finally, we utilized our time together to make foster care ministry plans for the entire upcoming 2018-19 church year. Local networks worked together to identify collaborative priorities and even get event dates on the calendar. Church leaders were sent home with a number of resources to aid in the planning for their individual church foster ministry- making sure it is holistic, timely, and fits in with their church ministry structure. These, and many more resources, will be available this summer on our upcoming website, as the priority of the FSFA this summer and into next year will be resourcing churches with whatever is needed for their foster ministry programs. Resources like an easily replicable trauma-informed training for childcare volunteers, guides like “How to host a foster parent night out,” etc… will be coming soon, so that churches have everything they need to support foster families and children in their own community. We also have a new need for advocacy for policy reform within our children’s administration system, if you have volunteers interested in research, law, or IT, we can connect you with people who are actually making positive changes to outdated policies.
Our next Alliance gathering will be the first week of October, but keep an eye out for resources made available throughout the summer.