By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
MONROE – The Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home is now northeast Louisiana’s second largest residential provider for homeless children and their families.
Grinning with excitement, Children’s Home President and CEO Perry Hancock told trustees during the entity’s spring board meeting that the news from the Northeast Louisiana Home Coalition only reaffirms fulfilling a vision that was first dreamed of six years ago.
“The need is so great because domestic violence is so high in northeast Louisiana,” Hancock said. “This creates a place to stay for a while and train the homeless mothers and their children in ways they can provide a better life.”
Started in 2012, HomePlace provides homeless women and their children a place to stay for six to 12 months at no cost to the residents. While there, the women receive a high school equivalency degree and life and employment skills training through the Christian Women Job Corps. In April, some residents moved into a new cottage, offering an array of amenities to offer a true home environment for the women and their children in this transitional setting as they prepare for independent living.
Since inception, 80 percent of the women participating in HomePlace have successfully earned a degree and completed necessary training to land a job outside the campus.
In addition to news about the success of HomePlace, Hancock told trustees the Children’s Home has reached another milestone – surpassing the 100th child in its off-campus foster care ministry.
In 2015, the foster care and adoption program served 219 children, including 85 off-campus. The program began just three years ago.
To keep up with the growth in this phase of ministry, the Children’s Home has social workers in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Monroe, New Orleans and Shreveport. More information about adoption and foster care can be found through its Connect 127 network.
Hancock said this fulfills one of the goals of the 2020 Report – a carefully drafted seven-year strategy in which Louisiana Baptists can do a more effective job of reaching and engaging the lost for God’s Kingdom – regarding developing strategies that help Louisiana Baptists minister to children in distress.
“Our Connect 127 foster and adoption network of churches is growing,” Hancock said. “The Children’s Home can now provide churches with the tools needed to establish life-changing foster and adoption ministries for the 4,500 foster children in Louisiana.
“Network churches are creating foster and adoption support groups that reach unchurched families in their community,” he continued. “The goal is to have all of Louisiana’s foster children living in a Louisiana Baptist home, going to a Louisiana Baptist church where they can experience the love of God in Christ.”
Hancock also shared with trustees that renovations to Peace Cottage should be complete by mid-summer. Once finished, all eight residences on campus that were built in the 1970s will have received new flooring, an updated kitchen and the removal of paneling inside the homes.
Grace and Feazell cottages were the first to receive renovations in 2013. Since then, Joy, Rucker, Love, Hope and Faith also have been renovated.
The day concluded with the Children’s Home annual celebration banquet at North Monroe Baptist Church. Attended by 250 people including donors, house parents, trustees, residents of the Children’s Home and school teachers, the event recognized each child on campus with awards and other presentations.
“This is an affirmation for the children of how well they are doing and it builds up their self-esteem,” Hancock said. “The Children’s Home is not their first choice, but having events allows us to make life on campus a little better for them and show them Christ’s love.”