California Agency Provides Foster Care for Needy Children
by: Stafford North | June 12, 2012
Agape Villages is a foster family agency licensed in fourteen northern California counties and is supported primarily through churches of Christ. Agape Villages is the outgrowth of a work which started in 1958 called Sierra Children’s Home. Their work, which has evolved to the present program, has served over 5,600 needy children.
Agape Villages locates, trains, certifies, supervises, and supports families to do foster care. At any one time, they typically have about eighty children placed in homes and they could serve more if they could find homes for them. Their goal is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for abused or neglected children so they can either be reunited with their family or adopted by a family which will care for them permanently. Some of the children Agape Villages places, then, will stay in the foster home for a year or less while the situation in the child’s natural home improves so the child can return home. Other placements, of course, are for a longer term. In either case, a Christian family has the opportunity, not only to help improve conditions for children in need, but can also make a strong impact on the children as the foster child attends church and Bible school and participates in home Bible studies.
Agape Villages’ April newsletter, called “The Love Letter,” tells the story of seven children from the same family which needed someone to care for them. The Alameda County placement center called Agape Villages to see if they could place all seven children in one home. They couldn’t quite find that place, but did get four placed with one family and three with another only thirty miles away with the understanding that there would be occasional times for all of them to be together.
Another story in the newsletter tells of a family who took an eleven-year-old boy that had no sense of a normal family. The foster mom, Sabra Thomas, said she “had never been so irritated and in love with a kid . . . ever!” Over time, however, love won out and the young man became an outstanding high school student, making good grades and involved in student government. He will start in college this year.
Janet Kleyn, President of Agape Villages, wrote in her newsletter, “As I think of our foster parents, I am constantly stuck by how they sacrifice their comfort and conveniences for the sake of children in need. They open their hearts and homes to children who complicate things for them, no doubt! Yes, they get much in return, but it is based on the love they share and their courage to get involved. This is pure religion and a tremendous example of those who put faith into action.”