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'The Beautiful Thing': Churches and Faith-Based Groups Respond to Growing Numbers of Foster Children

'The Beautiful Thing': Churches and Faith-Based Groups Respond to Growing Numbers of Foster Children Read Transcript

- Foster providers like Grand Rapids based

Bethany Christian Servicessay the opioid epidemic

has created a desperateneed for more foster homes

and they are working overtimeto recruit foster parents.

- It's the largest driver right now

in the United States for foster care.

- [Heather] Scenes likethis are all too common.

A four-year-old trapped in a car.

His grandmother and herboyfriend passed out

after overdosing.

Victims of an opioid epidemic

that kills more than 100 people every day.

Their children and thechildren of those addicted

need temporary and often permanent homes.

It's why the race is on

to recruit more fosterparents like Matt and Liz.

- The more we started talking about it

and we kind of thought, gosh,maybe this is just God's way

of telling us that this is thedirection that we should go.

- [Heather] In following that direction,

Matt and Liz have welcomedthree foster children

into their home anddeveloped a heart for kids

with special needs.

- It only takes us probably, I don't know,

maybe a few weeks with the kids

before you feel solelyresponsible for them

and feel like I have to doeverything I can for these kids

because, you know, at the end of the day,

they are sleeping in our home

and they're a part of our family

for as long as they're here.

It's so important thatthey have those parents

that are going to fight for them.

- [Heather] Unfortunately,more and more do not have that.

In Ohio alone, kids in foster care

double the number of licensed parents.

Nationwide, the foster careneed has risen 10% since 2012.

And while the opioid epidemicstarted out in rural America,

it has now spread into suburbs and cities,

creating even more demand.

- Really, it's a drug thatdoes not discriminate,

and so it's really everywhere.

- [Heather] In overseeingthe program's foster parents,

Cheri Williams must prepare them

for children who have suffered,

often at the hands ofdrug-addicted parents

who didn't feed, clothe, or protect them.

- Trauma is not always the overt abuse,

physical abuse, sexualabuse, things of that nature.

Trauma is also neglect.

And so while some childrenfrom an opioid home

may have endured outward,overt physical or sexual abuse,

many of them have experiencedthe neglect aspect.

- [Heather] And for many children,

that neglect startsbefore they're even born.

Addicted at birth, theymust go through withdrawal,

and then, into the arms offoster parents like Bob and Sue.

- Majority of our babies are from mothers

that were on drugs during pregnancy.

And you know, I don't see the worst of it

'cause it's when they're in the hospital

going through withdrawals,but then you see, you know,

as the months come alongand how behind they are.

- [Heather] Speech delays,eating problems, social issues.

Sue and Bob have seen it all.

They've fostered since 1988.

States have relied heavily for years

on faith based agencies like Bethany

to recruit and retain fosterparents like Sue and Bob.

And now, these groupsare creating new ways

to help hurting kids.

The Global Orphan Projectconnects social workers

with churches.

Through its CarePortal website,congregations see the needs

of neighborhood families in real time.

Other faith based groupsgo directly to churches

with local foster needs.

Naomi Schaefer Rileyhas studied the trend.

- Going into particularchurches, particular parishes,

congregations, and goingto the pulpit and saying

these are the seven kids in your zip code

who need a home tonight actuallyreally had very big effect.

People were unaware thatthe problem was so local.

- [Heather] Fosterparents like Matt and Liz

don't seek recognition or fame,

and Bob and Sue even face resistance

from friends concerned about their age.

But there are no plans to quit.

- I plan on doing it untilmy health won't let me,

when I can't keep up with them anymore.

- [Heather] It's a sacrificethat means everything

to children whose livesdepend on a foster system

that cannot keep up with demand.

Reporting in Grand Rapids, Michigan,

Heather Sells, CBN News.

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