By Ron Bertsch, Director of Therapeutic Foster Care & Adoption

May is proclaimed National Foster Care Month by President Donald Trump. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin also proclaimed the same for Kentucky. President Reagan signed the first National Proclamation back in 1988. Governor Bevin and First Lady are seeking partnerships with churches and faith based agencies to help combat child abuse and serve the record all-time high 8,188 children in the Kentucky out of home foster care system.

DCCH Center has been operating as one of just a very few faith-based social service agencies in Kentucky and the only Catholic agency in Northern Kentucky, serving the state’s abused and neglected children.

Open Heart, Open Home is the new initiative by the Governor and First Lady. With nine children themselves, four of whom joined their family through adoption, they know first-hand the needs of the children. They are leading by example and imploring the church community in the great state of Kentucky to help find more foster and adoptive families.

Through no fault of their own and not their choice, the children have been moved into foster care for their safety. They need a stable environment, something their parents have not or could not provide.

In a one year period, from February of 2016 to the following year, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services investigated 54,582 reports of neglect or abuse. Out of those investigations, 13,976 resulted in findings of substantiated abuse or neglect. This ultimately has led to record number of children in out of home care. As of May, exactly 6,495 children are placed in foster homes. Approximately 6,000 more children are in Kinship Care with extended family members. Some will return to their parents if the parents can successfully resolve their issues and can provide a stable home. Unfortunately however, 2,360 children won't have that opportunity. These children long for a "forever home" and need a loving adoptive family. Within that group 1,228 are available for adoption.

Bolstered by the Governor’s request for partnership to seek relief for children in these dire circumstances, DCCH is accepting the challenge to increase efforts within the Catholic Church of the Diocese of Covington. We are pleading for everyone’s help. We know the church is alive and well within our Diocese. We see the success of the Diocesan Parish Annual Appeal, the increased number of vocations and the spiritual growth of wonderful men and women who are active within the church. Good families who learn of the need might just realize they are being called by God to minister as foster or adoptive parents, as volunteers, mentors or prayer partners.

Already, foster parents from St. Agnes are rearing their four biological children and have answered the call to serve yet another. A childless couple from St. Therese are choosing to foster and adopt. A family of seven from St. Cecilia are ready to finalize an adoption of their ever growing family. Another family from St. Thomas is fostering. A Lakeside Park family who regularly attend Mass at Bellarmine Chapel at Xavier have accepted a teenage boy into their home with plans soon to adopt. A St. Mary family adopted their daughter not long ago, as did two families from Immaculate Heart of Mary. Holy Cross, St. Pius and St. Henry claim prior adoptive families through DCCH, as do more couples from St Timothy, St. Therese, St. Thomas and Mother of God and Divine Mercy. The list goes on but could we benefit from more families from these parishes or just one family from every other parish in our Covington Diocese? YES, we definitely could benefit from more families to adequately serve just a few of the hundreds of children each month who are referred for placement. If you have ever thought about it, or for the first time are learning of this critical need, please take action now.

DCCH is hosting the next, no obligation, Informational Meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 6:30 PM. For more details, please click here.

To parish priests, deacons, principals and staff, lay persons or secretaries within each parish or school: please help DCCH take up the cause and challenge from Governor and First Lady Glenna Bevin. Help us by giving permission to put a recruitment poster at the back of church or school and place a yard sign out front that will provide continuous reminders of the need. Insert a message into the weekly bulletin or allow a message to be sent to all the school parents. Let us set up a booth after Masses to speak to any parishioner considering this ministry. We are willing to share our story to various club’s or group’s gatherings. If someone wants to schedule a DCCH speaker just call. Lastly, everyone please say a prayer for the children needing a home and healing, and pray for our efforts and ultimate success in finding a good family for every child entering foster care who needs one.