By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Foster care panel hopes to draw parents in faith community
Event emphasizes importance of helping
0914foster4
Liz Coates, outreach minister at First Baptist Church of Gainesville, speaks Sunday afternoon at a community foster care panel at the church on Green Street.

Orientation

What: Training by United Methodist Children’s Home
When: 4-6 p.m. Sunday
Where: First Baptist Church Parlor for Parents/Room 115, 751 Green St. NW, Gainesville
Register: liz.coates.isandoro@gmail.com or 770-535-0478. Child care provided with prior registration.

Training

What: IMPACT foster parenting certification classes
When: 6-9 p.m. Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27 and 29; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 10 and Oct. 24
Where: First Baptist Church
More info: Sondra Rogers of UMCH, 770-531-3063

Foster parent Wendy Boswell recalled the most precious blue eyes of a 4-month-old, who was shaken until he was blind by his father 14 years ago.

The boy’s smile remains frozen in time on her wall, as Boswell encouraged others at First Baptist Church on Sunday in Gainesville to join the cause of supporting foster care children.

“I could walk right past him and I would not know it, but he’s out there somewhere, and I played a little, tiny part in getting him to 14,” Boswell said.

A panel of foster care experts spoke Sunday to a mix of churchgoers from several Gainesville-area churches looking at getting involved.

Those churches include First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Gainesville First United Methodist Church, St. Michael Catholic Church, Blackshear Place Baptist Church, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, First Presbyterian Church and Grace Episcopal Church.

“The gospel of Jesus cannot be more clear, that we as disciples are called to care for the least of these,” said First Baptist Church outreach minister Liz Coates, who worked on starting a foster care ministry.

The panel seated themselves in a line following a child’s progression through the system, beginning with the Division of Family and Children Services and ending with adoption attorney Judy Sartain.

Hall County DFCS Director Holly Campolong said the county has on average 200 kids in foster care with only 20-25 staying in Hall County. When other family placement options are not available, kids are often moved to cities in South Georgia where more beds are available.

“By the time the child gets to foster care, we have tried everything under the sun to try and preserve and make a safe environment for that child,” Campolong said.

One of the goals of the foster care ministry, Coates said, is to build a network of foster care parents in Hall County and have others work in support roles.

Blackshear Place Baptist Church Executive Pastor Grady Sutton made the choice with his wife to jump in to help in the crisis more than a year ago. With three girls of their own, the Suttons welcomed in three foster children now ages 5, 4 and 14 months.

“Our life is crazy all the time,” Sutton said.

With all of his children grown up, the executive pastor looked to his church when needing to borrow a crib for the youngest foster child. He praised the network of people trying to help foster parents, including the diapers provided by United Methodist Children’s Home.

Boswell followed Sutton to dispel any notion of being a “glorified babysitter” for children in the system.

“You pour into them all the love and everything that they need to be the child that they can be,” Boswell said.
Though the goodbyes are always hard, Sartain said the importance of short-term foster care cannot be understated.

“The two weeks that the child is in your home might be the only time they ever hear the word ‘Jesus’ used not as a swear word,” she said.

The orientation for prospective foster parents will be held 4-6 p.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church. The church will also host IMPACT training classes for foster parents throughout October.

Orientation

What: Training by United Methodist Children’s Home
When: 4-6 p.m. Sunday
Where: First Baptist Church Parlor for Parents/Room 115, 751 Green St. NW, Gainesville
Register: liz.coates.isandoro@gmail.com or 770-535-0478. Child care provided with prior registration.

Training

What: IMPACT foster parenting certification classes
When: 6-9 p.m. Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27 and 29; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 10 and Oct. 24
Where: First Baptist Church
More info: Sondra Rogers of UMCH, 770-531-3063


Regional events