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Collaborative recruiting foster parents

A Mississippi collaborative is trying to solve one of the state’s most pressing problems — there aren’t enough foster and adoptive parents for abused or neglected children.

Rescue 100 is a joint effort between the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, the Mississippi Commission on Children’s Justice, 200 Million Flowers and churches across the state. 200 Million Flowers is a Mississippi adoption agency founded in 2011.

The approach of the collaborative is quite simple. The organizations work together to streamline the training and certification process for foster families. After a brief orientation meeting, most families can complete the necessary steps in a weekend. A home study is still required after the training is completed.

That’s significantly faster than the process usually takes, and it means more families are prepared to serve as foster homes for children.

The faith side of the collaborative is an important one. The original Rescue 100 event took place in Gulfport and was led by a pastor who sought to recruit 100 new resource families to ensure each child in Harrison County that needed a place to go would have one.

That effort is now replicated across the state, with upcoming training sessions taking place in Oxford, Hernando, Columbus and Tupelo.

The training sessions are open to any Mississippi resident. Previously, they were limited to the county where the events were held.

The first step for any family interested in becoming a foster or adoptive family is to complete an orientation session. It typically lasts one hour.

Families will learn about the group’s Biblical approach to foster care and what being a foster parent looks like. The next step is the training weekend.

After a weekend of training, home studies will be scheduled and must be completed before the family can be licensed. Families that participate in the Rescue 100 events have the support of their local faith community, which is usually their church, as well as the typical support provided by the state for all resource families.

Given the problems surrounding the state’s system for abused and neglected children, it’s encouraging to see a collaborative effort like this.

I only wish there was a training session right here in Lincoln County. But Lincoln County residents can attend any of the training sessions across the state.

The Bible is crystal clear when it comes to orphans in the Book of James:  “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Thank God that Rescue 100 is trying to do just that.  For more information about the effort, visit 200millionflowers.org.

Luke Horton is publisher of The Daily Leader. Email him at luke.horton@dailyleader.com.