Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor
John Camardo has some advice for churches who want to be part of the solution to the Western New York foster care crisis.
Join the ministry he helped put together two years ago.
Camardo, one of the pastors at the Chapel at CrossPoint in Getzville, is a leader of Every Child Ministry, which looks to combine the power of the regional mega-church with other congregations to help children in need of foster care or adoption.
“One of the biggest hurdles for many churches is that there’s a lack of resources,” Camardo told me as I prepared the cover story on foster parenting in today’s WNY Refresh.
The Every Child Ministry is a nonprofit group made up of a coalition of Christian churches that accepts cribs, beds, car seats, clothing, toothbrushes, blankets and more for children in need, from newborns to age 21. The group, headquartered at the Chapel, also provides baby sitters, transportation support, meals and other “acts of service” for foster and adoptive parents adjusting to changes in family size.
Other churches involved in the effort include the Eastern Hills and Hamburg Wesleyan churches, and Kenmore Alliance and Centerpointe Community churches. Gateway-Longview and Baker Victory Services, which are among the social agencies that help place foster children, also are among those involved.
The goal is a holistic approach to helping the most vulnerable of children, and the group’s message is simple: as God’s children, and as Western New York residents, all of us have a responsibility to help in some way.
“For somebody who says, ‘I don’t have the capacity or ability to take a child into my home, so I’m exempt,’ that’s not enough,” Camardo said. “It’s how can you come alongside and support families who do bring children into their home? We’re a community, right? So how are we caring for those who are in need?”
The work of Every Child Ministry spills beyond the region, as well. The organization also works with Mission of Hope in Haiti, which runs an orphanage and school, and Let them Laugh Out Loud, a child mission in Sierra Leone, Africa.
The effort is large because the need is great, according to the every-child.com website.
• There are more than 150 million orphans across the globe.
• In 2012 alone, more than 240,000 children entered the U.S. foster care system.
• Roughly 400,000 American children are without a permanent home or family.
• Orphans in the U.S. wait an average of five years before they become members of their “forever family.”
“Foster care is an incredible option for many people but they just don’t know about it,” Camardo said.
Noting that the goal of the system is to reunite families after a crisis, he added, “At the end of the day, we want to provide good homes where these children are going to feel safe and secure and be able to heal, so that when they are reunified they are in the best place to be able to do that.”
To find other ways to help, visit the Every Child Ministry website or read today’s cover story in Refresh.