Virtual Event: Francis Chan, Lecrae, others Raise Awareness for Foster Care, Needs of Vulnerable Children

August 31, 2020

Grand Rapids, MI – Bethany Christian Services announced that Francis Chan, Lecrae, David Crowder, and Tasha Cobbs will participate in their “Family Changes Everything” virtual event on October 20. Presented by the NIV Our Family Story Bible, the event will celebrate the power of family and raise funds to support vulnerable children and families. Registration for Family Changes Everything is free and available now at Bethany.org/Family.

“We are excited and grateful to have Christian leaders and artists like Francis Chan, Lecrae, David Crowder, and Tasha Cobbs join this special virtual event to support vulnerable children at a time when the challenges they face call us to go further than ever,” said Chris Palusky, President & CEO of Bethany Christian Services. “At Bethany, we believe that family changes everything. This event will help us equip families to be the answer for children in need.”

“We are proud to be a title sponsor for this event,” said Melinda Bouma, Publisher at Zondervan Bibles. “I can personally testify through my own adoption journey with Bethany that indeed, family changes everything. Zondervan created the NIV Our Family Story Bible because we recognize the impact that God’s Word has on families. Over years of reading and recording memories together in this Bible specially crafted for families, each family will look back and see just how clearly family changed everything.”

With more than 400,000 children in the foster care system, including 122,000 who are waiting for adoption, the need for foster and adoptive families is urgent. Bethany, along with other child welfare experts, anticipates an increase in foster care placements amid the pandemic as families are impacted by job or home loss, the loss of loved ones, or increased stress that can lead to substance misuse or domestic violence.

Thankfully, Bethany has seen an uptick in interest in foster care parenting during the pandemic. This year, from Q1 to Q2 the global children and family social services organization experienced a 55% increase in attendance at foster care informational meetings in the United States.

While more free time and the convenience of online foster parent training may contribute to the increase in interest for foster parenting, Bethany is encouraged to witness communities band together in support of vulnerable children amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Increased interest in fostering says that people still have hope and they’re willing to link arms with those in need in their communities,” said Kimberly Offutt, national director of family engagement and support for Bethany Christian Services. “The pandemic has disrupted the lives of many and created long-lasting damage. Communities are reporting spikes in substance misuse and domestic violence calls, and many are struggling to pay rent and keep food on the table. But at the same time, we are seeing communities stepping up to support the families in need in their cities and neighborhoods. Foster families can be the lifeline children need during this crisis. Our goal is to keep children safe and help overwhelmed families get the support they need in the moment they most need it.”

In addition to the increase in foster care interest, Bethany has observed another emerging trend: more single foster parents. Currently, about 20% of Bethany’s foster families are single parents.

“The pandemic has changed the plans and expectations many of us had for our lives. Individuals that might have traveled quite often or otherwise spent very little time at home are finding themselves with free evenings and no travel plans,” said Cheri Williams, senior vice president of domestic programs for Bethany Christian Services. “I also think it’s safe to say that this global crisis has caused many people to search for purpose, meaning, and the ways in which they can make a difference in the world. Becoming a foster parent is an excellent way to truly and tangibly impact a life for the better.”

Bethany has pioneered the practice, particularly in the faith-based social services industry, for single parent fostering after observing that certain teenagers tend to thrive in a single parent home, especially those who have a significant sexual abuse trauma or have survived human trafficking.

People looking for ways to help the most vulnerable who have been inequitably impacted by the pandemic can register for the October 20, 7:00pm EST virtual event at Bethany.org/Family.