Eight thousand—this is the current number of children in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS). Eight thousand children, who at no fault of their own, have been removed from their home and need a place of safety and stability. DHS is in desperate need of families to place these out-of-home children. While this is a daunting number in our state, Oklahoma Baptists are partnering together to step up to meet this great need.
One Such Child, a program of Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children (OBHC), works to assist churches in either beginning or enhancing their foster care/adoption ministry by encouraging families/churches to become involved in the foster community, recruiting new foster/adoptive families and engaging foster/adoptive families through ongoing training opportunities.
This summer, One Such Child partnered with seven churches and one association to offer re-certification trainings for foster families. Midwest City, Eastwood; Oklahoma City, Capitol Hill; Oklahoma City, Cherokee Hills; Skiatook, First; Lexington, Slaughterville; Altus, Martha Road; Checotah, First; and LeFlore Association all participated. These trainings ministered to nearly 150 foster parents and totaled more than 1,000 annual DHS-approved training hour requirements. The training events also helped churches strengthen foster and adoptive parents as they learned techniques to help care for foster children who have experienced trauma or out-of-home care.
One attendee shared, “I really like face-to-face training over online training. The ability to ask questions and get answers works well for me.”
Jim McMillan, pastor of Lexington, Slaughterville, understands the challenges of foster parenting. He and his wife have fostered several children throughout the years.
“When we found out about this ministry opportunity, we got more information and called,” McMillan said. “Doing the trainings in conjunction with Vacation Bible School even allowed a special opportunity for one couple to attend together. Their child has special needs so one parent would usually always have to stay home with the children while the other attends training. This opportunity allowed their children to be cared for in a safe, fun environment while both parents got to attend.”
Lexington, Slaughterville has plans to further engage the foster and adoptive community. The church desires to start a support service to foster families through events such as foster parent date nights, birthday parties and creating comfort bags for children coming in to DHS.
McMillians added, “We saw there is a real need for foster parents to have opportunities to take a breather. Children in DHS custody often struggle with so many emotions or pain. It’s important to serve these families so they can regroup and care for those children in the best way possible.”
As this state continues to work to help find an out-of-place home for these 8,000 children, it’s encouraging to see Oklahoma Baptists at work, providing hope, encouragement and solutions.
OBHC appreciates the many churches and communities who partnered with One Such Child this summer to support foster and adoptive families. For churches interested to learn more about hosting a training or supporting foster families in your community, visit www.obhc.org/OSC or contact Teri Blanton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405/942-3800 Ext. 4691.