Every child needs a family and a safe place to call home. For families at risk of child abuse or neglect, direct services and supports (from governmental, community-based, and faith-based organizations) can help address issues and allow children to stay safely in their home. When staying with parents is not an option and children must be removed from their care, children do best when they are placed in a family setting. This includes kinship care—such as grandparents raising their grandchildren—foster care, and adoptive families.
As a faith leader, you are uniquely positioned to help your community better support both at-risk families and the caring adults who take children into their home when they cannot remain safely with their parents. Your congregation can be a welcoming sanctuary for these struggling families, and your voice as an advocate is a powerful one across Kentucky.
How You Can Help in Your Congregation
- Actively recruit members of your congregation and community to become foster parents. For resources on where to start, visit adopt.ky.gov.
- Host support groups for kinship caregivers or foster and adoptive parents. The Orphan Care Alliance is a statewide organization with resources for these groups.
- Ask members of your congregation to help celebrate and support kinship parents, foster parents, and adoptive parents, especially during the transition of a child/children coming into the home.
- Include information in your newsletter or on social media around the importance of kinship care, foster care, and adoption. Find that information and more at kyyouth.org.
- Encourage members to provide respite care for kinship and foster care families. Examples include babysitting for a kinship caregiver, taking a child back to school shopping, inviting a foster family over for a game night, and more.
- Host trainings for parents and caregivers around how to care for children who have experienced trauma, recognizing the signs of child abuse and neglect, or other issues that support learning around child welfare related issues. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has helpful resources.
- Utilize sermon guides tailored to include messaging around supporting vulnerable families.
- Utilize curricula for small group discussions that include information about supporting vulnerable families. One example for small group discussion is Cherrydale Baptist Church.
- Plan an Orphan Sunday to give vision to your congregation. Learn more at Christian Alliance for Orphans.
How You Can Be an Advocate for Policy Changes
- The Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children is a comprehensive policy agenda for kids and families and includes a number of policies relating to safe and loving homes for kids. Learn more about policies that are good for kids, including expanding supports for kinship caregivers and helping kids in the child welfare system, at kyyouth.org/blueprintky/.
- Stay informed about policy changes and receive action alerts by signing up for the Kentucky Youth Advocates email list.
- Learn who your legislators are by visiting lrc.ky.gov or calling 1-800-372-7181.
- Contact your legislators about policies affecting families during the legislative session, and maintain relationships with them throughout the year. Share stories with them about how policy changes could affect kids and families in your congregation.
- Educate and involve others in your cause by talking to your neighbors, friends, and congregation. You can also write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to help raise awareness around the issues faced by children in Kentucky who interact with the child protection system.
- Collaborate with other organizations or congregations who share a common goal of safe, loving homes for all Kentucky kids.