It was in 2005, that a collaboration of child welfare stakeholders in Montgomery County (including CPAs; DFPS, CASA, the City of Conroe, the County Commissioners, Judges, and non-profits) began working together. This collaboration is called the “Montgomery County CPS Community Advisory Board”. This collaboration had TREMENDOUS impact on the best practices and outcomes for CPS children and their caregivers. It became the model in which Commissioner Judge John Specia determined was “the best working child welfare collaboration in the state of Texas”.
This unity of mission had found a home in the faith based community. The effort exponentially grew until 2013 when it was clear that the collaborative efforts had reached beyond Montgomery County into surrounding counties of Harris, Walker, Waller, Liberty, Chambers, and Galveston. It was also apparent that the three primary churches involved since 2005 could not continue to hold the weight of the growing network of collaboration.
It was then, in 2013 that 63 churches were invited (in which 59 attended) to meet together to discuss the current situation surrounding our communities “orphans” (the word that most resonates with The Church in describing America’s foster children whose parents are the government).
This new collaboration was named Orphan Care Solutions and included all of the foster care stakeholders from the Community Advisory Board and the faith-based community. However, meetings with all the foster care stakeholders and church partners at one time became logistically and fundamentally impossible and the collaborative model had to shift from one meeting of the minds to a separation into two meeting (foster care stakeholders meeting on even numbered months of the year; faith-based community meeting on odd numbered months of the year).
Orphan Care Solutions became the BRIDGE between the two large groups, facilitating discussions on the problems (from the stakeholders needs/concerns) and solutions (utilizing the faith-based community's talents and interests of involvement).
The consistent agenda items include: Recruitment & Retention of Caregivers; Providing "Normalcy" of life for foster children and caregivers; Permanency for Children; the "Aging Out" crisis; and support for Kinship families caring for CPS children. We realized that a byproduct of addressing these areas was also addressing some keys areas of Prevention of abuse/recidivism.
This BRIDGE model of collaboration provides MANY benefits for the church, non-profits and state. It allows freedom for The Church to do whatever God asks of each part of The Body with any/all of the stakeholder that their talents can be used without being managed by the State. This freedom keeps God's will in the center of all collaborative decisions and provides for both transactional support as well as transformational solutions. It also provides a holistic method that extends to all areas of a community's foster care network, not just the county CPS or state Department of Family & Protective Services.
Some of the most impactful solutions bridged include:
Orphan Care Solutions Conference: A Community Orientation on Foster Care & Adoption (now known as Fostering Hope Texas Community Summit)was successfully hosted November, 2013. This annual event has licensed hundreds of foster, adoptive and respite care families; hundreds of foster families now have additional training and support services they did not have before; foster family support ministries are now available throughout the region; multiple foster care resource centers have opened; and participating stakeholders in need of volunteers have reported 100% fulfillment of need for each year (including every child in Montgomery County CPS has their own Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA, aka "Child Advocate).
Several members of The Church joined in vision and obedience to God's will and opened Hope's Path, serving the needs of "aged out" foster youth 18-26 years old.
A system of donation requests, fulfillment and distribution has been established in a collaborative effort so that EVERY child/family receives what is needed, not in surplus or duplication from other agencies/organizations.
A "Talent Database" was opened and provides resources of EVERY TYPE OF TALENT God gives to the foster care stakeholders as needed "for such a time as this".
OCS Bridge Model of Transformation Change has expanded into 18 Texas counties with expectations in 2018 to double its growth.
With Orphan Care Solutions’ growth numbering over 400 churches and 48 foster care stakeholders, we are experiencing an expansion movement throughout multiple areas of Texas … welcome to Orphan Care Solutions of Texas!