JACKSON, Miss.- Rescue 100, a collaborative effort between the government, faith based community and private sector, aim to train more foster parents to take care of abused and neglected children.
Rescue 100 began after a Harrison County pastor, Tony Karnes of Michael Memorial Baptist Church saw a huge need in his own community for homes for foster children. The church had such a desire to help that they pledged to find 100 more homes for foster kids who were living at what was intended to be a temporary children’s home.
They hosted their first weekend seminar to train prospective parents at Michael Memorial Baptist Church in Gulfport. The second was held just a few months later in Hattiesburg.
The group met again on Friday in Jackson to encourage the state to make foster children a priority. The event began with a prayer and words of scripture citing where Jesus tells his disciples to “let the children come to me” and the need Mississippi has to help its foster children.
Gov. Phil Bryant began the meeting reminding guests of Mississippi’s high infant mortality rate and how that number is unacceptable.
“With God’s help and the Department of Children and Family Services, even the state of Mississippi can do some good, and we intend to do that. But if we can involve the faith based community, if we can get churches to reach out and say we must follow the words of our Christ and help our children, as we can,” Bryant said.
There are 1,096 children in foster care in Attala, Hinds, Holmes, Issaquena, Leake, Madison, Rankin, Scott, Sharkey, Warren, and Yazoo counties. There are currently 272 licensed resource homes in those same counties, according to Chris Alexander, spokesperson for the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services.
While licensing for a foster home can take upwards of a year, Rescue 100 has condensed the criteria into a jam-packed weekend of information that allows families to begin the process faster.
Justice Dawn Beam, who has been involved in the organization from the beginning, said that not all families that attend the weekend program become foster parents, but everyone finds what role they can play in these kids lives.
“What happens is not only are they deciding how they are going to handle it themselves, but they are seeing how others can be blessed by them being a part of it,” Beam said.
The next Rescue 100 training session will be on October 21-23 at Mississippi College, but several information meetings will be held beforehand.
• Oct. 10, Canton, Madison Chancery Courthouse, Board of Supervisors Room, 146 West Center Street;
• Oct. 11, Jackson, Hinds Chancery Courthouse, 316 South President Street;
• Oct. 12, Vicksburg, Warren Chancery Courtroom, 1009 Cherry Street;
• Oct. 13, Brandon, Rankin County Circuit Courtroom, 215 East Government Street.
For more information or to sign up visit http://www.200millionflowers. org/.