In May 2012 a local foster parent started an initiative called Welcome Boxes. This stemmed from a simple question regarding what happens to a child from the time they are removed from their home until they are placed in a foster home. A social worker described a bleak picture of children waiting in a DHS office within earshot of a social worker who is on the phone for sometimes hours on end making phone calls and having to describe to prospective parents the intimate details of this traumatized child’s life.
That is when this one foster parent came up with the idea of mobilizing her church community to provide boxes of age appropriate, delightful things for kids as they waited to help assuage a tense and vulnerable moment.
What began as a hope for 25 boxes has turned into over 5,000 boxes supplied to DHS offices around the city primarily by followers of Jesus from across the city. Thanks to the community’s generosity, Welcome Boxes are being expanded to help not only kids transitioning homes but kids whose parents don’t show up for a visit and situations that are similarly devastating for a child.
For instructions on how to make a Welcome Box, visit this link: WELCOME BOX
For questions or more information contact
Washington County – Mark and Erin Povolny.
Multnomah County – Mari Lou and Jeff Holmes
Clackamas County – Haley Shamblin
Child Welfare Office Partnerships
The Department of Human Services – Child Welfare System operates in a world of complication and brokenness. There is a strong need for followers of Jesus to step into the darkness and offer a beacon of hope. Partnering with a local DHS office can look like donating materials, caring for facilities, or simply volunteering wherever there is a need. These relationships with DHS offices are vital for the long-term sustainability of this effort as well as improved conditions and services for kids in need. Social workers are often over-worked, offices are in varying states of disrepair, and the overall atmosphere of these facilities can be disheartening for all who walk through the doors on a daily basis. This is understandable given the horrific stories and circumstances these people have to face regularly. There is an enormous opportunity to come into these environments and offer compassion, encouragement, and life.
For information on how to get involved visit www.embraceoregon.org.
Foster Parent’s Night Out
Being a foster parent is a very taxing job and burnout is a common factor for kids having to transition to multiple homes. One of the best ways to provide consistency is to ensure regular respite care for foster parents so they can have a few hours to breathe, take a nap, or go on a date with their spouse. FPNO offers support to foster families in our community by caring for kids one evening each month so that foster parents can enjoy a night to themselves. During this night out we provide children with a safe and nurturing care, fun activities, and relationship-building opportunities while practically demonstrating the love of Jesus. Currently each of the local churches within the A Jesus Church Family host an FPNO at or near their gathering location. There are also other FPNO’s across the city that could use your help playing with kids, cooking meals, helping with setup/tear down, and planning fun activities. The dream is to one day have one FPNO in every zip code throughout the Portland Metro area. To volunteer at an FPNO, contact the leader from your church to get an application: Gavin Bennett: Bridgetown, Kristy Colvin: Westside
Royal Family Kids is the largest network of camps in America focused on kids experiencing abuse and neglect. Over 7,000 kids from the foster care system show up each year to 209 camps spread out over 40 states and 6 different countries! Hear the Cry has sponsored a Royal Family Kids Camp in Washington County for the past 7 years and during that time hundreds of volunteers have had a front row seat to watch broken, hurt children meet a loving, healing God.
We build our camp around the concept of family, something that has negative connotations with all of these kids. Our God is all about redeeming what is broken and we watch him work in these kids’ lives to make family a word that brings a smile to their faces rather than retreat into their shells. At camp we have Camp Aunts, Uncles, Grandmas, and Grandpas as well as Counsellors who play the part of parents. We also try to have at least twice as many staff as kids, which translates into these kids always having the complete attention of multiple adults. This comes as a breath of fresh air to many of these kids who feel invisible to their own families during the rest of the year.
We believe that families should laugh a lot and have a good time hanging out together, so naturally this is a priority at Royal Family Kids Camp! Each year our goal is to make our week with these kids the best week of their lives! We have done all types of activities ranging from a dress up station to hot air balloon rides, from a beauty parlor to renting out water parks, from food coloring water fights to life-sized Candyland board games – everything we do, we do big! Before camp each year we ask, “What is the craziest, coolest thing that kids 7-11 years old want to do?” And these are the things we make reality.
We also believe that families should celebrate. Each year at camp we have a birthday celebration! Many kids come to camp never having celebrated their birthdays, so we throw a giant party for everyone. From individualized cupcakes to giant boxes of presents to a piñata forest, we make sure to create the ultimate birthday experience! At the end of the week we celebrate with everyone by having a formal banquet! We bring dress clothes, shoes, and jewelry for all of the kids, and the staff all bring their own dress clothes. While the ladies are at the beauty parlor, we run the guys through an etiquette class which is followed by a group carriage ride to a formal banquet. We treat them like royalty because in our eyes and in Gods’, they are.
When all is said and done, camp is so much more than a week full of surprises and laughter. We want the kids to enjoy the activities, but our ultimate hope is that they have an encounter with God. We firmly believe that this one week – full of God encounters – will change their lives and give them hope and freedom.
The week at camp is best described as the worst, best week of your life. You will experience physical exhaustion, you will hear stories from these kids that are full of evil, but you also see hope begin to ignite within them. These kids come to camp scared and confused and hardly recognizable as children, but they leave with smiles and stories of how God overcomes evil with good and a hope that the evil that has been done to them can be undone by their true Father.
Applications for 2018 Camp are now being accepted!
New Leader Application
Returning Leader Application
Here are some important dates to consider:
- March 18th: Applications Due
- June 9th: 9am-5pm, Mandatory training for NEW Staff
- June 23rd: 9am-5pm, Mandatory training for ALL Staff
- August 5th-10th: Camp 2018
For questions or more information contact Heather Quinsland.
Throughout the Bible we see a continual plea by God to his people to take care of the orphan. Orphanages can be found throughout much of the world, however not in the United States. Instead we have foster care and the child welfare system. In Washington, Multnomah, and Clackamas counties there are a combined 3,178 kids in foster care. Many kids who enter care are placed in homes that are less than ideal due to a shortage of available homes. Some of the more tragic examples include kids being placed with families who don’t speak the same language, split up sibling groups, and kids needing to leave friends, schools, and communities multiple times in a single year to ensure they have a roofs over their heads. As recently as 2013, research showed that in order to meet the demand for homes in the tri-county area DHS would need 884 new non-relative certified foster families to ensure quality placements for every kid in the system. One goal we have is to see this need for families met in order to have a surplus of options for kids to be placed in quality foster homes; however, this is not the end goal. The end goal in fostering is always to see a family reunited and reconciled whenever possible. Raising up 884 foster families is merely one step needed to free up the resources that can be dedicated to supporting biological families toward healthy reunification. Though progress has been made toward reaching this number of 884 in recent years, the need is still great, and we are a long way from our goal.
We are not going to say that every person should be a foster parent but we are asking everyone to, at the very least, pray about it. Fostering is a truly difficult task and not for the faint of heart, but from those at our family of churches who have gone before us we have learned that nothing can mature your discipleship process and lead you into a life of dependence upon Jesus like fostering can, and that is what makes fostering well worth it!
For more information on becoming a foster parent contact:
Multnomah: Norene Owens/ Norene.firstname.lastname@example.org/ 503-872-5563
Washington: Scott Noon/ Scott.email@example.com/ 503-681-6998
Clackamas: Dan Minne/ Dan.firstname.lastname@example.org/ 503-731-3456
If you have begun the process of becoming a foster parent or are currently fostering, please contact Hear The Cry to ensure the church knows who you are and can help support your family.
If you are not in the position to foster but would like to help support a family in the church that is fostering, please contact Hear The Cry for help getting connected.
The Foster Closet is an all volunteer tax-exempt non-profit organization providing aid to the foster care community by supplying clothing and other items free of charge to children in foster care.
While most children come into a foster home with little more than the clothes on their backs, the finances foster parents need to supply kids with basic necessities is rarely readily available. The Foster Closet exists to stand in the gap and provide these resources to foster families to ensure children get what they need. The Foster Closet believes that by providing these children with gently used or new and up-to-date clothing and supplies, we can help raise their self-esteem so they can feel good about themselves regardless of their living situation.
The Foster Closet is a small organization that meets an enormous need. Because few resources like the Foster Closet exist, people will drive as far away as 50 miles to receive their generosity. At the A Jesus Church Family we see the Foster Closet as a vital piece of support for foster families around the city. We want to come along side these families by providing faithful loving volunteers who can help serve them in their effort to improve the quality of life for kids in foster care. There are many ways you can use your gifts and talents to serve the Foster Closet; right now the biggest needs at the closet are cash donations and people to help organize, oversee, and distribute supplies.
The Foster Closet is located in Hillsboro at 1635 SE Tualatin Valley Hwy., Hillsboro, OR 97123.
For information on how to get involved contact Rachael Boyle.
Office Moms and Dads is an unprecedented initiative being launched in the tri-county area. The goal is to have a bank of trained volunteers that are “on-call” to come into a local DHS office and sit with a child while they wait for a case worker to find a home to place them in. This can be an extremely traumatic experience for a child and a stressful time for social workers who are trying to simultaneous find a placement and look after the child or children.
For more information about how you can be apart of OFFICE BUDDIES check out www.embraceoregon.org.