Interested In Becoming A Foster Parent?

So…you’re thinking of becoming a foster parent? You’ve realized it’s time to do something with all that love in your heart, but you’d like some more info on how to get started? You’re in luck! I wrote this post to fill you (yes you—the one reading this right now) in on the basics!

Let me start with the 2 most popular questions. 1. How old do I have to be? 2. Do I have to be married? Whether you’re living the single life or you’re someone’s other half, you can be a foster parent. Unlike Facebook, we’re not too concerned with your relationship status. As for the age requirement, you only need to have reached your 18th birthday. Whether that happened this last birthday or quite a few birthdays ago is of no consequence: there’s no age limit on loving and caring for a child.

In addition to being at least 18, you must hold a valid California driver’s license to start the process of becoming a foster parent. Ask any parent—if you have kids, you’ll be driving! You don’t need to own your own home (another popular question), but you do need to have enough income to support your household. The foster family reimbursement (yes, foster families do receive financial assistance for the children placed in their care) won’t be taken into consideration when making this calculation. So at least one adult must be employed or have some other sufficient source of income.

Confident that you’ve met those requirements? Give us a call! 1-800-566-2225. No, seriously. That’s how you start the process. We’ll do a phone interview and then have you complete the application packet(s). After that, an Agape rep will perform the initial home inspection and you’ll provide us with copies of a variety of documents. You (and anyone in your house who’s 18 or older) will need to be fingerprinted. You’ll also need a health screening and TB test. To prepare you for your new role as a foster parent, Agape Program Director Cheryl Youngblood will guide you through the Agape Pre-Service Training (formerly “PRIDE”). You’ll need your CPR/First Aid certification and, if you have a body of water on your property, you’ll need to complete a water certification course (Agape offers one free of charge). Finally (whew!), an Agape social worker will conduct a home inspection and interview. That’s the short and sweet version, anyway. This is a basic overview of the process (which averages 6-10 weeks), not a step-by-step guide. Don’t be alarmed/surprised/dismayed when there’s more to the process than what I’ve got here!

Still reading? Good. I saved the most important requirement for last. To be an Agape foster parent, you MUST have a heart for kids. It’s a beautiful and wonderful thing to open your home to a child—bless you for being willing to do it. But bless you a hundred times…bless you a thousand times…bless you for eternity for being ready and willing to open your heart to kids who may never have known what it is to be safe and loved. Or who haven’t known it in so long that they’ve forgotten what it feels like. Bless you for having that heart and for actually using it. We need it. We need you.

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ELFing Fun!

During the month of December the Tri-Valley Church took donations to ELF someone. They brought joy into our neighbors’ yards with balloons, elf cutouts and an ELFed sign through Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, Tracy, Danville and San Ramon. It ended up raising $2,000 for Agape Villages!

Thank you so much Tri Valley Church and all the people who participated in the ELFing fun!

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Christmas Parties

Agape Villages celebrated its Christmas parties this year with pizza and cake, games and gifts for all the foster kids. We had a party in each of our 3 regions. Thank you to all of the Agape staff who worked so hard to make this such a memorable night for the kids and families. Thank you to all who donated so that we could provide these gifts.

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Thank You Pleasanton North Rotary!

Agape Villages was thrilled to be the beneficiary of Fund-A-Need at Pleasanton North Rotary’s A Starry Night event in September. Rotary members Tom Hall and Tami Hennegan presented the check to Janet Kleyn and Jen Oxe on December 1. The check was for $28,030! We are overwhelmed and so thankful.

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We are an Inspire Giving Semi-finalist!

Janet Kleyn and Courtney McAlister were pleased to attend an event on Nov 30 in Citrus Heights, where Agape Villages Foster Family Agency and 2 other semi-finalists for the Inspire Giving grant were featured. Janet and Courtney answered a lot of questions about the Agape Transitional Youth Program, which is a year long program that helps prepare youth from age 14 – 21 to be happy, productive adults.

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Every Child Needs A Family

Meet Tommy, he is 16 years old. Both of Tommy’s parents died approximately one year apart. Tommy was only 10 years old. Devastated and grief-stricken, Tommy moved into the home of relatives. The living arrangement was disastrous… Tommy came to Agape and began his journey in foster care. When Tommy came to Agape he was emotionally paralyzed and reclusive. He did not talk. He did not make eye contact. He threw violent tantrums. Tommy’s refuge from his pain was to hide in a closet. Thanks to you, ALL of that has changed!

For nearly 60 years Agape has devoted its resources to serving abused, neglected and abandoned children by providing safe, nurturing environments. For decades Agape has been a lifeline to children and families that were in despair, and we’ve remained steadfast in our goal to provide an opportunity to heal and grow through development of cutting edge programs and activities. Your continued support has enabled us to expand our programs, serve more children and impact countless lives.

Double Your Impact

We are so grateful for your support and we’d like to tell you about a unique opportunity. Thanks to the generosity of a Matching Grant Challenge by an anonymous donor, when you donate between today and December 31, your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar up to $25,000. That’s right – you can double your donation to support the life-changing services Agape provides to children and families.

Think about that….think about how you can transform the life of a child or teen that has been caught in the grips of a painful and traumatic situation that is beyond their control. Every child does need a family, however that family must be one that cares for, and nurtures the child’s mind, body and soul. That is what we do at Agape.

Children and families rely on Agape to be a beacon of light; we rely on your partnership and commitment to fulfill our mission and vision. There are two ways to make your donation:  (1) Donate online, (2) Send a check or credit card payment by mail.

The Rest Of The Story…

As for Tommy, with the devotion of Tommy’s foster parents Larry and Jean, the dedication of Agape Villages Social Workers, the grace of God and Tommy’s personal resilience and unwavering determination, today, Tommy exemplifies success. He is currently a Junior in high school and is enrolled in a specialized program that combines the curriculums of high school with junior college – when Tommy graduates from high school he’ll receive both a diploma and an AA degree! Tommy’s in the process of obtaining his driver’s license, and by participating in various Agape Villages’ Independent Living Skills Programs, Tommy in on the path to self-sufficiency and a fulfilling, joyful life. In heart, mind and spirit, Tommy is truly a member of Larry and Jean’s family. Affectionately known as “Uncle Tommy” to Larry and Jean’s grandchildren, Tommy has found his family, and we all know, family is forever – we look forward to your continued partnership.

For The Children,

Janet Kleyn

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ELF Someone to benefit Agape Villages

ELF Someone! We are partnering again with the Tri-Valley Church to bring joy into your neighbors’ yards with balloons, elf cutouts and an ELFed sign. If the house you want to ELF is in Livermore, Dublin, Pleasanton, Tracy, Danville, San Ramon, just pay a small fee and the church will organize the ELFing starting Nov 30 leading up to Christmas Day. All proceeds benefit Agape Villages.

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Where Do Our Donations Go?

It seems like I was just making (and promptly) breaking my resolutions for 2017…and now 2018 is almost here!

This is the time of year we reflect on the progress we’ve made and the setbacks we’ve encountered. We take stock of our lives, deciding what needs changing and what’s perfect the way it is. And, with Christmas just around the corner, it’s a natural time for us to reflect on the many, many blessings we have in our lives.

At Agape, our biggest blessing is the happy, healthy children and loving families we serve. It’s what we do, it’s why we’re here, it’s what matters most. But that blessing would not be possible without the help of Agape’s generous donors–our other big blessing.

By now you’ve heard that an anonymous donor has pledged to match every gift made from now until December 31st. As you consider taking advantage of this opportunity, we’d like to highlight the good work that your gift makes possible.

First and foremost, you support the recruitment, certification, and training of foster families. It is not an easy process, it takes time and staff (our Program Director, Cheryl Youngblood, leads the PRIDE training herself) and a lot of paperwork, but it is the heart of Agape. Where would we be without these loving families who open their hearts and homes to the innocent, vulnerable children who need them?

After the family is certified (perform happy dance here), the children can be placed in the home. Although they are part of the certification process, this is where the real work of Agape’s social workers begins. They make home visits at least once a week and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This is possible because our social workers have no more than 15 children on their caseload. This allows them not just to meet the mandates of the state, but to truly focus on the needs of the children and families. If a parent has a need or concern, their caseworker is always available to help. Our social workers have the time to get to know the children well, so they can truly do what is in the child’s best interest.

Agape’s purpose is, of course, to provide a safe and loving home for the kids in our care. But we also pride ourselves on providing our kids with opportunities for personal enrichment and growth as well. Agape kids are able to take art and music classes, go to summer camp, participate in sports, and so many other things that make childhood what it should be. We have a girl’s group that meets monthly, allowing participants to socialize with a group of peers to whom they can truly connect. For Agape’s teens (15 – 21), we offer the Transitional Youth Program which teaches the skills needed to successfully navigate the adult world. Who knows what these activities may inspire? Activities made possible because of your generosity.

And we have a dedicated staff who keep everything running smoothly (which is no small feat).

As you know, all of these things cost money (and this was just a small snapshot of all that your gift supports). We know that making your gift is a sacrifice. The money that you send to Agape is money that is not going to something else–a Christmas gift, a vacation, a pumpkin spice latte, another worthy cause. We want to acknowledge and honor that sacrifice. We want to thank you for it. We believe in what we do and your support makes what we do possible. Thank you for your belief in us and our mission. Thank you for caring about children you’ve never met. Thank you for showing it in a tangible way. Thank you for blessing us.

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Giving Tuesday is Tomorrow!

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving. Everyone, anywhere, can participate! We would love for you to consider making your donations to Agape so we can continue to provide safe loving homes for kids in need.

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Thankful for Foster Parents

This time of year gets so busy and we wanted to take a moment each day this week to focus on being thankful, because we really do have so much to be thankful for! Today we are thankful for all our foster parents! They open their hearts and homes for kids in crisis and we could never say thank you enough!

Liz and Richard Messenger are a wonderful example of one of our many loving foster homes. The Messengers were empty nesters, 3 of their 5 biological children had married and moved out when they started fostering with Agape. Their home had always been the place for their children’s friends to hang out on weekends an the family often took in relatives or family friends who needed a place to go. Fostering was just a continuation of what they had been doing for years and what a great environment for the kids to be in. They took in several groups of kids and realized that teenage boys is who they can care for best, which is one of the hardest to place. Because of foster parents like the Messengers, abused and neglected kids now get to experience homes full of love.

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