Mission: There is not a strong enough continuum of care for NH children in foster care and those at risk of entering foster care. 1,728 children are in NH foster care as of Jan 2007. Children who grow up in these environments are more likely to live in poverty, commit crime, be incarcerated, to perform poorly in school, to have more difficulty finding gainful employment, to have emotional and behavioral problems, to abuse drugs and alcohol and to commit suicide than are children in stable & loving homes. Many of those who grow up in foster care without sufficient support enter adult shelters when they turn 18 and many end up incarcerated. Cycles of despair must be broken as we now are in our 3rd generation of children growing up in foster care. Our recruitment and retention efforts must improve. Solutions must provide for community, faith based and government organizations working together. Two-thirds of New Hampshire?s foster families are members of the faith community. This astonishing fact continues to motivate the State to reach out their hands in partnership. With over 900+ Communities of Faith, even if only 25% of them responded in a small way, we would greatly improve the quality of life for children in NH?s foster care system. Grace Children?s Home was born in the midst of this transition and is positioned not only to care for children at its Springfield location, but also to help build this ?faith based partnership? throughout the state. Our Executive Director is a graduate of Dartmouth College and has been a leader in the faith community for over 25 years. He is widely known, and respected, across the state and is actively building this partnership, gaining the respect of both faith and state leaders. He was one of the keynote speakers at HHS Commissioner John Stephen?s roll out of his Strategic Plan for the NH HHS ? Faith Based Initiative on July 2, 2007. He will be the keynote speaker at this year?s Foster & Adoptive Parent Conference in October sponsored by the NH Department of Children, Youth & Families.
Programs: Our Family 1st Project seeks to give needy children a positive family experience in every way possible. We make use of the imagery of Champions here at Grace Children's Home recognizing that each child is in training to become a Champion! We believe that's what good families produce - Champions! Champions overcome adversity in life to achieve their goals. Our study of history has taught us that many if not most of our greatest leaders had very difficult beginnings. These they overcame and their lives were marked by an inner strength resulting in the ability to persevere and succeed in life.Our KID Farm Project helps mend hearts through caring for animals. Research has shown this to be effective as children learn again to give & care. Our five sheep seem to enjoy the children's attention, but then again, I'm not really sure! I do know that the children do enjoy their times of interaction with them!Our Cultural Exchange Internships have brought 6 young adults from other countries to volunteer at the Home. We're getting ready to welcome our 7th & 8th - Viviana from Colombia and Miriam from England! The lives of the children have been enriched, interacting with other cultures and languages and has made living at the Home very special.Our Bethlehem Project is a statewide initiative helping to reach the faith community with the needs of children in foster care. We see our community churches like modern-day Bethlehem Inns. In that original one, there was no room for a very special child who was born to an unmarried teenager. Given the fact that two-third's of NH's foster parents go to church, we think churches will embrace foster care as a ?Home Mission? if they had a better understanding of it and felt an ownership in the process.Bridgebuilders is a new initiative we've started in 2006 to get faith leaders and state leaders to begin to talk and work together for a better community. We addressed leaders in Concord, Littleton, Lebanon and Lancaster to date. We are currently organizing our next one in Berlin which is generating interest across the state. The possibilities here really are extraordinary!Finally, we have collaborated with the NH Department of Health and Human Services to write a grant for a Fatherhood Initiative to help NH Dads embrace and fulfill their responsibilities to their families. Research proves the vital role fathers play in the lives of their children and so, together with DCYF, we helped to craft a thoughtful statewide initiative. We are also working with NH Health and Human Services and the Community Marriage Initiative to help NH couples build stronger marriages. We see everyday the high cost of marriage and family breakdowns. Proactive Marriage Education programs will help reduce the numbers of children entering the foster care system.
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