* What: FaithBridge Foster Care community conversation
* When: 10 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday
* Where: The Vine Community Church, 4655 Bethelview Road
* Contact: RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or (678) 277-3032
A first-time foster family felt the call to service during a Sunday sermon.
The pastor at Browns Bridge Church didn’t specifically mention fostering children, but to the Krpatas, who had always considered it, a statement resonated with them.
“The message was ‘Do for one that you can’t do for many,’” said Lance Krpata. “A lot of different sermons kind of guided us this direction.”
The Forsyth County couple completed the months’ long process of becoming foster parents and took home a newborn boy, just five days old.
Three months later, the child has made an impact on the family, which plans to continue opening its home to children in need.
The Krpatas received training, certification and other required resources through FaithBridge Foster Care, a placement agency that has recently begun addressing fostering needs in Forsyth.
The discussion will open Thursday with a community conversation about foster care issues in Forsyth and neighboring Hall County.
The event targets pastors, Department of Family and Children Services workers, potential foster care parents, local nonprofits and anyone else interested in learning about fostering or the local challenges.
In Forsyth, the need is there.
About a dozen families are approved foster parents, while nearly 60 children require placement, said Scott Wilbanks, director of Forsyth County Department and Family Services, during a social services committee meeting in August. About two-thirds of those children are sent to live in homes outside of the county.
According to Wilbanks, the agency has been focused on increasing training, recruitment and retention of foster parents to address the issue.
FaithBridge Foster Care is one group that works with DFCS and aims to help with outreach efforts.
Bill Hancock, the founder of FaithBridge, said the group has been working with communities for the past five years to address the problems and find solutions. The issues typically include lack of families, stability and positive outcomes.
“My experience is most communities are usually unaware of what is the problem,” he said.
Since the group’s beginnings, FaithBridge has added 230 foster families and served 450 children, Hancock said. They work with DFCS to place children in foster homes, but otherwise provide all the same services.
“We’re actually a private version of what DFCS does,” he said. “We select the families. We approve the families. We place those children in those homes and we also manage the relationships of our families.
“What we have found is that more people are willing to engage in foster care as a ministry if they can work through a private, Christian organization through their local church.”
Another aspect of the program that’s been successful, Hancock said, is the addition of respite foster families and supporting families who are approved to assist the primary caregivers.
Caring for a foster child can feel overwhelming at times, but the law requires training and approval for those families.
A respite foster family allows for the primary family to have a break and support in caring for the child, which Hancock said is “absolutely essential” for success.
The Krpatas said having a respite family provides that sense of security and the families completing the training together at church creates what’s called their “community of care.”
Suzanne Krpata said they had planned to start out as a respite foster family, and would recommend it to anyone interested in fostering as a way to get involved.
She said FaithBridge fits in well with the church because the Krpatas view their foster parenting as part of their Christian service.
“Jesus spends a lot of time in the Bible talking about taking care of children and that message resonates with us,” she said.
The Krpatas said the training they received from FaithBridge prepared them well, including the advice that taking in a child younger than their biological son would increase the likelihood of success.
Four-year-old Zach Krpata has taken on the big brother role of the three-month-old foster child.
Lance Krpata said it will be difficult when the foster child leaves their home, but they’ve kept the reason for their service in mind.
“You go into it always knowing the main goal is reunification with the family,” he said. “It’s going to be tough … but we also know it’s the best thing for him.”