Did you know there are almost 9000 Georgia children in foster care? In Gwinnett County alone, there are 486 children in care, yet only 56 county foster homes. There are additional private agency homes available, but the significant deficit of foster homes means children are often moved far away from their community and school to other parts of the state, siblings are split up or children are placed in group homes.
The 111 Initiative is aimed at getting churches to partner directly with their local Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) office to recruit, train and support enough foster families to meet the need of that community. This initiative will be launching in Gwinnett County through participation of Unite! churches as a model for counties throughout Georgia. Instead of case workers struggling to find an available home when children come into care, our vision is to have 4-5 possible homes available to best suit children’s needs.
Our goal is to raise a network of 111 new foster families within the next three years. These foster families will be supported by volunteers and respite providers from the local church. You and your church may not be able to change the world, but you can change the world of one child. The immediate, pressing need is for foster families and a care team of volunteers to serve them and mentor the birth families.
111 began as a conversation in the fall of 2012 with Gwinnett DFCS on how we might work with area churches to recruit, train and support 100 new foster families in the next 3 years. As we began to research other ministries around the country with similar goals, we came across 111project in Oklahoma. They generously shared their experiences…their successes and challenges and agreed to travel to Atlanta in January 2013 to speak at a Unite! Gwinnett pastor’s lunch focused on foster care. Coming out of that lunch, we hoped for 5 churches that would agree to partner with us to launch this initiative in Gwinnett County. To our delight, 10 churches stepped up to join us, and 111 was born. Our goal of recruiting 100 new foster families in 3 years was increased to 111 to match the initiative.
12Stone Church, Lawrenceville
Cristo Vive, Lilburn
Christ the King Lutheran Church, Norcross
Christos Community Church, Norcross
Cross Pointe Church, Duluth
Faith Presbyterian Church, Watkinsville
Fellowship Bible Church, Roswell
Friendship Baptist Church, Duluth
Grace Point Community Church, Suwanee
Grace Fellowship Church, Snellville
Graystone Church, Loganville
Ivy Creek Church, Lawrenceville
Lawrenceville First Baptist Church
Loganville First Baptist Church
McKendree United Methodist Church, Lawrenceville
Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church, Alpharetta
Norcross First United Methodist Church
North Point Community Church, Alpharetta
One Heart Church, Norcross
Perimeter Church, Johns Creek
Questview Church, Lawrenceville
Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Athens
Rising Church, Suwanee
Sugar Hill Church
Victory World Church, Norcross
Not in Gwinnett County?
Our initial launch of 111 will be in Gwinnett County. What does that mean for churches in other counties who are eager to get started? While it will take time for 111 to become established here in Georgia and able to spread to other counties, your church can dive into this ministry now.
1. Contact Promise686 to let us know that your church wants to be part of this movement. Email email@example.com
2. Identify existing foster families in your congregation and implement steps 5-8 on their behalf.
3. Pray for God to raise up one new foster family in your congregation.
4. Encourage this family as they get certified either through your local DFCS office or a private foster care agency.
5. Identify one other family who will go through the foster care certification process to become a “respite family” for your full-time foster family.
6. Identify one person to coordinate care for the foster family during their foster placement.
7. Recruit a team of volunteers who can “come alongside” the foster family and biological family during the placement.
8. Meet with a 111 team member to learn tips on organizing the support for your foster family.
Listen to Chris Bratcher, the main speaker at our Blue Ribbon Luncheon launching 111. Chris shares about his experience growing up in and out of a Christian foster home. Click here to listen to all the recorded speakers at the Blue Ribbon Luncheon.
INTERVIEWS WITH BEN NOCKELS AND D’ANNA LIBER
Click here to read an interview with Ben Nockels, the founder of 111project in Oklahoma.
Click here to read an interview with D’Anna Liber, the Director of Gwinnett County Division of Family and Children Services.