“God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” This is one thing a Hamilton-area foster family has learned in their journey to becoming foster parents. Chris and Annette DeBoer, members of Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Waterdown, Ont., became foster parents two years ago.
“We were looking for something to teach our children how we can serve our community. All the signs kept pointing to fostering. It has been such a blessing for us in so many ways,” said Chris DeBoer.
During an information session hosted by the DeBoers, the room was filled with members of area churches and the surrounding community interested in learning more about fostering. It was part of a new faith-based recruitment initiative called “Children Need Families & Families Need Communities.” There are 550 children in the care of the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) in Hamilton but only 150 families fostering.
“There have been weeks when there are no beds available for infants and toddlers,” said Rachel Threlkeld, Homes for Kids Coordinator at CAS.
This initiative began in September 2014 after Al Karsten, a member of Immanuel CRC in Hamilton and former CAS supervisor, approached CAS to help with the recruitment of foster families. Foster families connected to a strong faith community have highly successful outcomes, so CAS was eager to collaborate.
Karsten and Threlkeld formed a group of Christian foster families to develop this recruitment initiative based on similar programs already in place in U.S. Foster parents act as ambassadors, encouraging others to help children in their community and support foster families in their churches. Currently 10 churches have ambassadors.
“We hope that other Christians will see our families and realize that their own family can open their homes to children in need,” explained Annette DeBoer.
DeBoer also identified many ways that church communities can help support foster families, such as prayer, meals, child care, transportation, celebrating a child’s birthday, and support when a child moves on.
“Not every Christian is able to open their home to a child . . . but every Christian is able to help in some way,” said DeBoer. “Foster families need support to remain strong.”