Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless
James 1:27 is pretty clear: "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."
Well, church, today's Inquirer gives us an direct way to pursue "religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless"...
The need is increasing
"Our numbers have continued to climb," said Alicia Taylor, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Children and Families, which includes DHS. "So we're looking for people who, whether empty-nesters or someone who just wants to be involved in a child's life, will step forward."
As the number of children entering the system has grown, so, too, have the ranks of registered foster families such as the Pinedas. In Philadelphia, just 117 new families registered in 2011; last year, 241 signed up, according to state data.
Placing a child in DHS custody is a last resort, Taylor said, a path taken only if social workers' interventions with a troubled family fail. If a child is deemed to be in peril from abuse or neglect and must be taken from his or her family, the system looks first to relatives or close friends; if that option isn't available, foster placements are sought.
Lately, requests for such placements have come in rapidly - as many as 15 to 20 a day, says Kia Butler, director of foster care for Tabor Northern Community Partners in Northwest Philadelphia, another of DHS's so-called community umbrella agencies.
And often it's more than one child at risk. "Each referral is a family, so a family could have one child or 11 children," Butler said.
Another challenge is keeping kids close to home. Part of the revamped DHS "Improving Outcomes for Children" model emphasizes community support.
"We try to find homes in the neighborhood so they see that same crossing guard, go to the same barbershop," Butler explained. "The normalcy of the child's life we try to keep intact because of trauma and neglect they've experienced."
That can be difficult in neighborhoods where many residents are too poor to qualify as foster parents.
Recruiters fight erroneous perceptions. Foster parents - now dubbed "resource parents" - need not be married or own their home. Same-sex couples can qualify, and are especially needed for a rising number of LGBT youth who feel more comfortable with LGBT placements. A foster parent can be as young as 21; there is no upper age cutoff.
Those who apply go through an orientation and are questioned about family background, employment, income, medical history, education, and community involvement. They undergo medical exams, and all adults in the home get criminal and child-abuse background checks. Only Pennsylvanians can be foster parents in the state - unless they are kin to the child.
The process takes about four months before training and certification.
What will we do? Read the full article here.