Ten years ago, the foster care system in Florida was in turmoil after reports spread of missing children and kids sleeping in warehouses. Often, the children slept at the feet of caseworkers while they searched for licensed foster care families willing to take them in.
Then, Irene Smith stepped in.
Smith, a Christian woman from Ft. Lauderdale, couldn’t bear to hear about one more stomach-churning scenario on the News.
Her voice became a catalyst that put the church in motion to give hope to the 300,000 children removed from their homes each year as a result of abuse, abandonment or neglect.
Because of people like Smith, there are now Christian organizations that work to unite the Church with the little ones God loves – the fatherless.
“Irene couldn’t read another headline and simply hope that the foster care system would change,” wrote Doug Sauder, author of “The One Factor: How One Changes Everything.” “She began to pray. A few days later she heard about churches in California that had banded together to provide homes for children in foster care. She knew this could happen in South Florida too.
“She didn’t know how it could happen, but she knew she had to start somewhere. That day, she became one voice that launched a movement,” Sauder explains.
Sauder is the president of 4Kids of South Florida, the Christian foster care Life that was formed from Smith’s vision. He is also an adoptive and foster parent himself.
Sauder is pictured above with his wife, Suzanne, and their three children, two of whom are adopted. Jackson, who is now 11, was adopted at birth; Kaden, 8, is their biological son and Kennedy, 6, was adopted from foster care.
But 4Kids isn’t the only local Christian organization that decided to answer God’s call to care for modern-day orphans.
Organizations like His House Children’s Home, Place of Hope and Florida Baptist Children’s Home are also fighting to solve the foster care crisis in Florida by placing foster care children with loving, Christian families.
In honor of National Foster Care Month, The Good News would like to introduce you to local heroes who are transforming lives in Florida one child at a time through foster care.
To find out more about these local heroes, click the links found previously throughout the story.