4th Annual Summit (Zoom)
On August 21, 2020, Louisiana Fosters held its 4th annual summit. Knowing the mission of Louisiana Fosters is not lost or void during these times, the team knew they needed to continue pressing into the “One Church, One Family, One Child” initiative launched one year ago. Innovation was the key when planning and coordinating this event and eventually bloomed into a zoom webinar where the focus would be on people of faith and their organizations doing great work within the foster care community to ignite a fire in Louisiana churches. See below for a recap of what our speakers had to say.
First Lady Donna Edwards spoke on her initiative: “One Church, One Family, One Child” – a statewide call for faith communities to recruit and support families within their congregations to foster a child in the State’s custody. “On any given day, Louisiana has over 4,000 children in foster care. We also have over 4,000 churches,” First Lady Donna Edwards said. “If each church-family recruited one foster family for one child, then wrapped themselves around that family in support of that child, we could change the direction of that child’s life, their future, and the future of our state.”
Secretary Marketa Garner Walters, of the Department of Children and Family Services, welcomed our guest and emphasized the faith-based community’s need to partner with DCFS. She explained how great the need is for foster parents and foster parents to see the child as a whole person and effectively meet that child’s needs. The secondary need is support for the foster parents themselves and the organizations that offer support for them as well.
Elizabeth Green, Project manager, Home Development, Faith and Community partnerships with DCFS, spoke of her experience with the private, faith-based sector and her work with DCFS and how valuable and irreplaceable those partnerships are for our foster children. Her experience in both government and community gave her a unique experience and platform to advocate for foster children.
Anna Palmer is the Executive director of Crossroads roads NOLA, which exists to recruit Foster families in the faith-based community, equip and guide them through the certification process and support them through their journey. Anna’s presentation is about the importance of quality support for foster families and helping the families get the training to meet the needs of kids from hard places effectively. To do this, Crossroads Nola trains caregivers through Trust-based relational intervention- TBRI.
Bryana McGee, a Louisiana Elite Advocacy Force Board Member, spoke of her time in the foster care system and how important quality and loving foster parents are. Her experience has shaped her world view, and she is now advocating for foster youth. Her first-hand experience brought a valuable perspective to the summit.
Kim Bigler, the founder of James Samaritan, saw a need and met a need. That is where it all began. Kim talked to the church and charged them with becoming involved in the Foster care system. She passionately explains that faith-based communities need to be the backbone of the foster care system.
Dr. Mark Johnson Sr., the Senior pastor of Edgewater Baptist church and a professor at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke on pastors and church leaders’ roles in being a part of the foster care system. He talks about taking care of children should be part of the church’s DNA and not something to do during the holidays. He states that foster care is a privilege to be apart of and changes everyone that’s involved.
Antonica Fraizer gave a powerful testimony of her experience in foster care. Antonica has the first-hand experience with several different types of placements and the effect it has on self-esteem. Having quality foster homes is essential and needed in the foster care community.
Over 100 participants got to experience these powerful testimonies of the extraordinary work done around the State. In the future, Louisiana Fosters is planning to connect with local churches to develop foster care ministries in their congregations. Everyone can do something; whether you provide a meal for a foster family, meet the practical needs of a child in care, or become a foster family, you can make a difference.