Hello Family Table Champions!
With Spring already here, it’s time for another Family Table Update, and there’s a lot to share!
What We Do: The Family Table connects and collaborates with the very people who have the greatest power to reverse the foster care crisis : child welfare agencies, churches, and families.
How We Do It: We educate the local church about the foster care crisis, equip new and existing foster families, and empower child welfare agencies and local community partners.
- We educate the local church, because when they understand the biblical mandate to care for widows and orphans, they will lead the way in change.
- We equip new and existing foster families, because when they have the tools, resources, and training, they need they are more likely to continue opening up their homes to children in need and less likely to quit.
- We empower child welfare agencies and other local organizations, because when trust is built between everyone in a community, those who have the resources can get them to the families who need them the most.
The Family Behind The Table
It has been a busy season for the Brown family. We said goodbye to Little Man and Little Miss last year as they were happily reunited with their Mom. Not every placement is a success story, but this one was a joy to be a part of. Their mother is an incredible woman, who made some mistakes when she was younger and had the children removed from her home, but never stopped fighting for them. It felt like a mutual partnership to help care for her kids until they could go back with her. After spending multiple holidays, vacations, family trips, visitations and countless hours on the trampoline with Gracie and Hudson, they were finally allowed to go home. We are still regularly in touch with them and their Mom, and so proud of all of them!
Our oldest son, Michael, graduated High School last year and is off to San Jose State this Fall. Luke will be a Senior, Hudson will be a Freshman, and Gracie will be in Middle School for 6th grade. Big changes!
As we have been busy with our four, we have said yes to respite care. This means taking in children who are already placed, to give their foster family a break, or when they are on vacation and the courts won’t allow the child to leave the county or state. We have had some beautiful and fun kids in our home in the last few months. This gives us a chance to serve foster families caring for kids full time, the kids love playing with our own, and we get to do what we love as well.
We work with a breadth of incredible agencies and non profits to better serve individuals and churches. I have started to bring partners along with me when speaking to churches, so those interested can sign up to volunteer on the spot. This has been working great. Many of these organizations are not faith based, which makes communicating with churches difficult, such as when one small group asked my non-Christian partner to describe the Biblical basis for foster care! I can speak the language of these churches and answer those questions, and the partners I bring with me can share about their organization. On that night, I had brought a rep from Kid Save, a great organization that provides mentoring opportunities for older transition age youth who are unlikely to be adopted at their age. This church small group had around 20 young people who were not able to take in children, but still wanted to make a difference!
I also have been setting churches up with For Goodness Cakes, a group who matches volunteers to make and hand deliver birthday and graduation cakes to children in foster care and youth who are overcoming adversity on their special day. There truly are hundreds of ways to serve children in foster care. We would love to help you find yours!
Part of my work with Family Table is serving other organizations with the same goals as ours: to better care for the 35,000 children in foster care in Los Angeles county. I continue to serve as a faith based partner to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the largest child protection service in the nation. I address groups of social workers, partner orgs, and other government agencies on the role of faith based foster care in the community, generating more interest in local partnerships.
In addition to providing respite care for little ones, I have recently been able to address groups of foster parents, encouraging them in the very real struggle of helping kids. Right now, 50% of all first time foster parents will never receive another child. That’s half of all foster parents who find the system too confusing, the heartbreak too great, and the assistance too minimal to continue on. A big focus for our work is recruitment and retention, and if we can be available to serve, encourage and assist full time foster families, we want to let them know they are seen and valued!
I love working with local churches, helping them clarify how to best engage their congregations to care for children in their community. Most churches adopt a shotgun like approach to local mission and service projects – haphazardly saying yes to every good thing they can be involved in, without strategy or gauging long term effectiveness. Through our 3D coaching program, we help churches Discover where God is at work, Develop a foster care ministry, and Deploy their church to practically care for their neighborhood.
A major praise report is that we were able to bring on two more churches to provide visitation centers, with several others being developed. It is such a joy to watch government partners in awe of the church in action, choosing to open up their buildings for parents and children to spend time together, cooking and sharing a meal together, and doing the hard work of repairing broken relationships until they are reunified.
Funding For New Case Manager Position
The work of foster care in Los Angeles is small, slow, and collaborative. Many of you have sacrificially given so that the work of Family Table can continue, and we thank you! This non profit runs completely on your generous support. We are currently seeking funds for two main areas:
A partner in Santa Clarita received a $30,000 financial gift to pilot a new program for a “Family Stress Support” position. This role provides case management for a struggling family outside of DCFS involvement. By hiring someone not affiliated with the government, this person is able to visit these families, identify their needs, and get resources to them – from food insecurity, to childcare, to mental health professionals. We are looking to pilot this position in the San Fernando Valley, where the population (and need) is even greater. We are fundraising between $30,000-40,000 to cover a years salary for a Case Management position. With our partnerships and contacts within the government, we can make a tremendous impact for families who need the most help to keep their children in their home. We are pursuing grants and private funding to meet this need right now. Please pray for our efforts!
As always, we need support for the daily operating expenses that allow us to continue the work of educating churches, equipping foster families and empowering child welfare agencies. If you, or someone you know, would like to give to these efforts, here is our donation link:
Please forward this to anyone you know currently working in Los Angeles, or those who would like to learn more about this work!
With love and thanks,
~Pastor Mike, Amy and the whole family!
9520 Oakdale Ave, Chatsworth, CA 91311