Central Florida Nonprofit Commission 127 Supports Foster, Adoptive Families Through the Pandemic
A Central Florida nonprofit is working to help foster and adoptive families, many of them a part of Embrace Families, that have struggled to connect with support networks during the pandemic.
Altamonte Springs-based Commission 127 helps connect church groups with foster families.
WMFE spoke with Commission 127 co-founder Betsey Bell and Summit Church’s Connection and Mobilization Director Dan Sherfield about why this support is needed during the pandemic.
Read the full interview below.
Danielle: So Betsey, Commission 127 has as its mission supporting foster and adoptive families. Why did that become even more important during the pandemic?
Betsey: The need for support for our families who are doing hard things, and loving kids from hard places, can sometimes cause isolation and withdrawing from supports that are out there. So during the pandemic, it was a lot of those supports that maybe did exist for our foster and adoptive families were not available. And so we saw even more so the need to, for our families to find connection with each other, and connection with churches and their community that could help walk alongside them.
Danielle: And Dan, what kind of tools and resources were you able to offer them through your church, and I’m guessing you did this all with social distancing in mind as well?
Dan: Our primary resource that we provided were relationships, the ability to come around a family, with meals, just being a support system. So having a community that even just hears what they’re going through. And so we provided a lot of people around them to do that and provide emotional support as well. Practically speaking, yes, where we might cook meals in our home and bring them over to their home or to their house, in pre-pandemic days, we were turning to things like providing gift cards, ordering grocery shopping for them to be delivered, or just have them be able to go pick up.
Danielle: And Dan, what was the feedback, like from your church volunteers, and also the families that they visited around this support that they received during the pandemic?
Dan: So if you’re volunteering in this time, I think, whenever we’re faced with something difficult or hard, we just want to be able to do something. And so this allowed volunteers to kind of move in being able to do something, but what they ended up is getting a lot in return, because they got to enter into the story of a family, they got to support them in a difficult time and often just share what’s even going on in their own lives with a foster family. And so both sides are enriched from the relationship that’s formed in this.
Danielle: And, Betsey, I know that you’ve trained 80 advocates at 30 churches so far, has there been an increase in the demand for the services? And are you planning on branching out? I know right now, you’re just Orange, Osceola and Seminole.
Betsey: So, we have 80 who have that, that group of people who are walking alongside them. And yet we have about 160 more who would love to have a care community, but we are really our hope and our desire is to raise up more churches, who could create a family advocacy ministry to be able to walk alongside a family.
Danielle: And Dan, how can people help foster and adoptive families right now? What have you heard from them that they really need during this time?
Dan: I think, as I said before, I think what we’re hearing from families is they need the connection and the relationship, the support that we can provide as a city as a community as churches all around our city. And our hope is create enough capacity and margin that that foster family could even connect with the biological family and we can work towards successful reunification. And maybe in the best case scenarios we actually have these care communities shift from supporting a foster family into back to the biological family and help stabilize homes and bring these families back together.
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