Bethany Christian Services Statement on Expiration of License for Serving Unaccompanied Children in Florida

June 10, 2022

ORLANDO, FL – Bethany Christian Services today released the following statement as they are no longer able to provide safe, temporary care for unaccompanied children in Florida due to Governor Ron DeSantis’s emergency rule blocking the issuance and renewal of state licenses for Florida-based organizations. While Bethany’s short-term foster care program in the state will no longer be serving children, the organization will continue strengthening and preserving families through their Safe Families for Children program, trafficking victim assistance programs, refugee resettlement program, adoption and pregnancy counseling services, and home study, post-release, and wraparound support services.

“Guided by our faith, Bethany has answered the call to serve vulnerable children in Florida seeking safety while they are reunited with their families. We are disappointed and disheartened to see our short-term foster care program ending,” said Chris Palusky, Bethany’s President and CEO. “Providing safety for vulnerable children, no matter where they were born, should be a non-partisan, non-controversial issue. We remain committed to showing the love of Jesus to the most vulnerable in Florida through programs that affirm the dignity of all life, and we encourage the DeSantis administration to think about their constituents–the thousands of children, families, foster parents, and staff–who are affected by this decision.”

In January 2022, Bethany joined over 200 faith leaders in the state of Florida signing a letter urging Governor DeSantis to repeal the emergency rule.

“Since 2019, Bethany’s short-term foster care program in Florida provided more than 125 unaccompanied migrant children with a safe, temporary home until they could be reunited with their relatives after they fled to the U.S. without a parent or guardian. This is a sad moment for our state and we grieve for the children who will now face living in unlicensed shelters or centers that don’t provide adequate care needed for them to thrive,” said Tawnya Brown, Senior Vice President of Global, Refugee, and Immigrant Services at Bethany. “Using vulnerable children as political pawns is unacceptable. As we face the challenges ahead, we need followers of Jesus to join together— despite any differences we might have—and care for children who need our help. We will never stop fighting on their behalf and standing up for those who don’t have a voice.”

About Bethany Christian Services Bethany Christian Services is a global nonprofit that supports children and families with world-class social services, all designed to help families thrive. Over 75 years ago, Bethany began our work by serving a single child. Today, Bethany works in more than 30 states and around the world, impacting hundreds of thousands of lives every year.