“There is a great threat to America’s future that is measurable, fixable and homegrown – our foster care system.” ~DeForest B. Soaries, Jr.
The priority – creating geographic communities to recruit, train and license 10,000 new, loving foster families by 2020.
The goal is large, however so is our faith. Our mission is to create solutions that enhance the well-being and self-sufficiency of youth in foster care, for “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”- Frederick Douglass
Research shows that children need safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments to thrive. This is not a want, but a need. Enough homes exist to meet our goal, yet many recruited families end their relationship with foster care within the first year. We’ve created a new model so that families are supported and empowered to realize the full benefits of their sacrifices and commitments.
“You were born with the ability to change someone’s life. Don’t ever waste it.” ~Anon
Many question their place in this world. Most people want to do good works but often feel confused about mission and scope. What is God is asking of me? Are we supposed to save the world, save a few, or save just one other person? As a faith-based organization, we only ask that you do what you can. Often we think we must save the world, but, are we being called to save one or a few?
There are more than 427,000 children in foster care in the United States. Each child being invited into a loving family makes a difference in that child’s life but also for all of society. None of us knows whether this child, with love and nurturing, will create a cure for cancer, become the next Nobel Peace Prize winner, or a great global citizen who will contribute greatness to the world.
Harvest of Hope provides strategies for geographic regions by offering training, guidance, research, support and technical assistance to public and private entities that are involved or have an interest in foster care. HOH also drafts strategic and tactical plans for addressing the area’s specific needs and identifies partners who will assist in implementing HOH initiatives. As of October 2018, HOH has successfully completed an initiative in Phoenix, Arizona, and launched a new initiative in Fresno County, California!
Harvest of Hope now offers training, guidance, research, support and technical assistance to public and private entities that are involved or have an interest in foster care. Geographical Initiatives are being established in areas that have sought assistance. Harvest of Hope will then draft a strategic and tactical plan for addressing that area’s specific needs and identify partners that will assist with implementation.
As of January 2017, Geographic Initiatives are operating in New Jersey, Arizona and Kentucky.
Recruiting Foster Parents
Harvest of Hope created a systematic approach designed to identify, recruit and train potential foster parents. Initial recruitment efforts began in 1996 when former New Jersey Governor Christine Whitman approached Dr. Soaries about the “border baby crisis” in which 57 infants were left in the hospital abandoned by their families after being medically cleared for discharge. The State of New Jersey was in need of families for these babies. Within a matter of weeks, 85 families from FBCLG were recruited and licensed for the placement of children. More importantly, all 57 border babies were placed in foster family homes recruited and trained by Harvest of Hope. The success of this initial intervention gave rise to the creation of Harvest of Hope Family Services Network, Inc., a new, First Baptist-affiliated, not-for-profit entity that developed and trained a network of churches throughout New Jersey to do what was done at FBCLG: Recruit families to become loving foster family homes for youth in foster care.
Expanding to Support Families
Harvest of Hope expanded its services to include extensive pre- and post- placement support for recruited foster parents who successfully completed the program to become DCP&P-approved homes for child placement. This support included a major emphasis on retention activities, life skills and behavioral health training, in addition to liaison and advocacy assistance – all designed to provide ongoing care, nurturance and stable homes to children in need. In addition, Harvest of Hope grew to include the placement of children, teens and sibling groups. For many years, Harvest of Hope managed a family reunification component that provided assistance to the New Jersey State DCP&P in the facilitation of the placement of children into appropriate homes as well as in-service training for existing foster families.
Expanding to Support the Nation
After 19 years of developing effective strategies and successful engagement within the foster care community, the Harvest of Hope founder and board of directors decided to transition from being a local direct service provider into a national organization that functions as a resource to government and community organizations that provide services to youth in foster care.
Harvest of Hope is now managed by a national corporate office and operations center, and the New Jersey office has become a Foster Care Resource Center for New Jersey foster parents starting with the Harvest of Hope network of more than 400 families. Expansion efforts include foster care initiatives across the country designed to be consistent in strategy and principles to the New Jersey experience, but unique to needs in each respective location.