Calling Beth Drake “busy” is an understatement. Beth spends part of her work week as a licensing specialist for Miracle Hill Ministries, a Palmetto Association for Children and Families (PAFCAF) member, founded in 1958 to care for unwanted, troubled, neglected and abused children who had no place to stay. The other half of her time is spent at Grace Church where she focuses on recruiting and supporting foster parents within the church community in Greenville.
Two years ago, the church recognized a need to support the 19 identified foster and adopted families in their congregation. Beth, a member of the church, stepped up to take the lead and forged a partnership between the two organizations, using her expertise in the child welfare field to help guide the church’s efforts to ensure children in need were placed in safe and loving homes.
“Not everyone is called to foster, but everyone is called to do something,” Beth often tells church members and community supporters.
The church not only recruits families to foster and adopt but the church leadership and congregation also spends time and resources supporting those families. Support groups are available for parents as well as a monthly date night when the church provides free babysitting to allow parents the chance to reconnect and decompress away from the kids. Grace Church provides wraparound services including recruiting volunteers to help new foster parents by bringing meals, babysitting and even praying over families who have been called to serve.
The church recently started a resource center that houses children’s clothing, toys and Bibles for foster children across the state. A partnership with local school guidance counselors means that the resource center can also provide for students who are in need.
Foster parents are the best marketing tool when it comes to recruitment, Beth said. She urges them to share their stories and helps them show the reality of foster parenting. It’s not always about having an immaculate house and the appearance of having it all perfectly together – that’s not real life. What helps with her recruitment efforts, Beth said, are families who “keep it real,” showing the day-to-day challenges like a sink full of dirty dishes or toys on the floor, balancing work and childcare schedules, doctors’ appointments and homework. This helps drive home Beth’s main message: The Grace Church community is here to walk alongside families, helping you navigate whatever you may encounter along the path – good and bad.
After two years of partnership with Miracle Hill Ministries, Grace Church has recruited more than 50 new foster families to provide a home to children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected. They have seen an increase in the number of single women fostering and even have a few college students helping to foster children in critical need.
“All of us are one step away from a broken place,” Beth said, meaning tragedies do not discriminate, everyone can potentially be “one step away” from themselves or a family member entering the child welfare system. Looking toward the future, Beth is focused on continuing to grow the partnership between Miracle Hill Ministries and Grace Church and being a resource for other churches interested in starting their own program for foster and adopted families in their congregation.
Want to learn more about Beth’s journey or how you can support Grace Church’s foster children and families? Contact Beth or Grace Church at edrake [at] miraclehill.org. To find out more about how you can get involved in foster and adoptive efforts in your community email communications [at] pafcaf.org
Have a story from your community like Beth’s that you would like to see featured on PAFCAF’s blog or in our newsletters? Email communications [at] pafcaf.org.