2019 is almost gone. From 2016 to now, God put me in a place to impact foster kids in my courtroom and on a bigger scale through community outreach via church and civic group presentations, and in partnership with Dr. Rebecca Reddy and other foster care advocates as we put together a coalition of concerned citizens to support foster parents and children. On the eve of 2020, I have mixed feelings. On January 2 I will transfer to civil and no longer have a child in need of care (CINC) docket. I look forward to growing as a judge with the increased responsibilities. I will greatly miss the children, families, and stakeholders in my CINC courtroom, but know that the opportunities to impact foster families and children on a wider scale will far exceed what they are now.
We must think bigger.
The problems we face in Sedgwick County and Kansas are far bigger than one judge’s CINC docket. This is a community-wide problem that won’t go away until everyone steps up to fix the problem. Governor, legislators, DCF, courts, churches, civic groups, you and I must do our parts to care for foster children and support the families who sacrifice their time and treasure to care for the least among us. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27 (ESV).
Everyone reading this can do something. You can foster, serve as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, mentor older youths as a Youthrive mentor or Big Brother/Sister, or support those in your church or neighborhood who are helping foster parents and children. I’d love to present the foster care crisis to your church or civic organization, for example. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
Just because you don’t want to do the right thing doesn’t mean you should make yourself feel better by convincing others to not help.
We must stop making excuses for our lack of action. I find it amusing when random comments to my posts include the alleged profit motive of foster parents. It’s obvious that such people haven’t bothered talking to actual foster parents who receive a tiny stipend that’s never enough to pay for their time and out of pocket expenses associated with caring for these kids. Indeed, the lack of financial resources for these families is one of the main reasons we lose as many foster families as we recruit. I’m sure the poisonous words of these people have stopped many willing people from doing what their hearts told them to do.
I need your help.
In 2020 I ask friends, family, Sedgwick County citizens, and colleagues to help me continue the work we started in 2016. I am up for reelection in 2020. While my role in the court will change, my commitment to community outreach will not. I will continue to scream from the rooftops the need for citizens to step up as foster parents, CASAs, and mentors. Being a duly elected judge opens up opportunities to speak on this issue, so I ask you to support the campaign in whatever way you can so I can continue the momentum. I also ask that you keep an eye out for outreach opportunities coming up in 2020. On April 2, 7-9 pm, for example, Friends University is hosting a foster care panel discussion, cosponsored by CASA of Sedgwick County and the Mattress Hub.
Please sign up on the campaign site for email updates and follow me on Facebook and Twitter to keep track of campaign events and presentations. Give if you can (click on the donate button to the right), and please email or message me if you’d like to help in other ways such as knocking on doors, marching in parades, etc.
You can do something to make others’ lives better.
Use this time to consider what you can do to impact our community for the better. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (ESV). Your service opportunity may not be foster care, but there’s something you can do to make someone’s life better. Whatever that is, stop pondering and start acting.
Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!