Engaging Local Churches and Communities
Local churches and their ministries are well positioned to identify and respond to children and families in greatest need and can play a unique and transformative role in supporting the transition process. They offer some of the most extensive, best-organized, and viable networks of community organizations administering to the spiritual, emotional, and material needs of children and families.
Pastors, ministry leaders, and church members are in a tremendous position of responsibility and opportunity to inspire and mobilize their fellow church members and local communities to greater awareness and action on behalf of children and families. Engaging the local church and community members throughout transition contributes to a welcoming and supportive context for children integrating into families and communities. Local churches can also serve as partners in recruiting and supporting families interested in serving as foster or adoptive parents.
Community members can offer opportunities to create or recreate bonds with friends, family, church, and school. They can also serve in formal roles as members of community child protection, child rights, or gatekeeping committees, or informally serving in a “watchdog” capacity through raising awareness about child protection and reporting cases of abuse and neglect through the appropriate authorities. The transition process can become an opportunity to strengthen community engagement by supporting new or existing community networks for child protection, providing training in assets-based community development, and helping develop community-level family services.
Journeys of Faith: A Resource Guide for Orphan Care Ministries Helping Children in Africa and Beyond Features principles of better practice, and includes examples of orphan care ministries that support children in family care and long-standing partnerships that are grounded in faith, prayer, and experience. It is intended as a resource and a guide for churches, pastors, students, mission field personnel, and others. (Faith to Action Initiative)
Twinning in the Best Interest of Children: Promoting Family Life, not Orphanages Features information on partnering with churches in Haiti to promote family care, including ideas for alternative service support/projects. (Catholic Relief Services)
Guide to Mobilising and Strengthening Community-Led Care for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Provides useful tools for individuals and organizations seeking to mobilize and strengthen community-led care for orphans and vulnerable children. (World Vision International)
Strong Communities for Strong Families: How Strong Social Networks Support Children and Their Families in Sub-Saharan Africa Presents research and analysis on the “how to” aspects of helping communities find their own power through strengthening their strong social support networks. Describes dozens of “promising practices” stories, showing how different communities improved outcomes for vulnerable community members by building on existing resources. (SOS Children’s Villages International)
Child Protection Advocacy: Effective Interventions for Strengthening the Child Protection System at the Local Level Describes World Vision’s Child Protection Advocacy approach and how to use it, including working with community partners, developing messages, and assessing advocacy efforts. (World Vision International)
Connecting the Dots: A Child Protection Model from Malawi Documents how a child protection model from Malawi works as part of the Integrated (HIV Effect) Mitigation and Positive Action for Community Transformation (IMPACT) program. (Catholic Relief Services)