3rd Annual Summit
3rd Annual Summit
First Lady Donna Edwards welcomed foster care advocates and faith leaders from across the state to the Governor’s Mansion on Friday, August 23, 2019, to celebrate the success of Louisiana Fosters and to increase involvement of faith-based communities in support of foster parents and the children in their care.
The event theme was “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.”
Over the past two years, Louisiana Fosters has grown from a handful of groups scattered around the state doing work to support the foster care system to an interconnected network of more than 50 organizations working together to support Louisiana’s children, said Madeleine Landrieu, Dean of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and a co-founder of the Louisiana Institute for Children in Families.
Every church in the state can do something to support foster families, said Kim Carver, also a co-founder of the Louisiana Institute for Children in Families.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows in their distress and
to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” —James 1:27
Carver, who works through Crossroads NOLA to help churches establish foster/adopt support ministries, invited the summit attendees to think about ways they could build support for foster families into their existing ministries and programs.
Fostering is rewarding but difficult work, he said. Families who are called to foster a child could benefit immensely from the support of their church family through babysitting or respite care, meal delivery, yard work, car repair or transportation to the child’s court and doctor appointments.
The event highlighted the work of six Louisiana Fosters partners – Open Table, James Samaritan (formerly James Store House), Empower 225, Crossroads NOLA, One Heart NOLA and Geaux 4 Kids’ Project Geaux Bags – and invited attendees to network with, learn from and work alongside one another to recruit and support foster families in their own congregations.
“We are so incredibly grateful for the work and support of our partners,” said Secretary Marketa Garner Walters, of the Department of Children and Family Services. “We do our best, but truly, we cannot and should not do this work alone. These are Louisiana’s children, and only by working together can we ensure their future.”
For more information about Louisiana Fosters, visit www.LouisianaFosters.la.gov.
Presentation materials and photos from the summit can be found at www.LouisianaFosters.la.gov/2019-summit.html.