The Heart of the Home

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “The kitchen is the heart of a home.” If that is true, then my home is [currently] in critical condition. Our kitchen is being remodeled (yes, during the month of December), and never have I been more keenly aware of how many critical family functions take place in the kitchen.

We cannot cook.

We cannot use the dishwasher.

We cannot store anything in the cabinets, so EVERYTHING from the kitchen has been moved to other parts of the house.

We have no sink. And, for the few dishes we have been using, I have been using a basin and washing in the bathtub. 

And the dust. It’s everywhere. Even the things covered in plastic sheets are still coated with a fine layer of dust. You can see footprints on the wood floor. (It’s a bit like video of the lunar landing.) We cannot decorate for Christmas, because of the chaos. Most importantly, we cannot eat and connect as a family.

I don’t share this situation to garner any sympathy (although I do hope you laugh at the visual of me washing dishes in the bathtub).

I share because, standing in the midst of this temporary disruption in my everyday life, I was struck with the thought of the many children in our community who have never known the warmth and security of a family kitchen. They may have spent time in many kitchens, but not had one of their own. Due to poverty, neglect, abuse, homelessness or transience, they may not had the pleasure of decorating a family Christmas tree, or waiting in joyful anticipation for delicious smells and tastes of a Holiday to emerge from the “heart of a home.”  There may be a refrigerator where they are currently staying, but it probably isn’t packed full of bountiful food choices, and their artwork and photos probably do not adorn the front. So much of their life is temporary.

Imagine how that would feel. Instead of fond memories of Christmases past, approaching holidays bring anxiety, and dread, and an acute awareness of the instability of your current situation. What for many people is a joyous occasion is, instead, a time these children endure—to pretend like it doesn’t matter that Santa seems to visit the houses of classmates but not their own. To ignore the glittery commercials on TV, and to hope that some generous soul somewhere will choose his/her “angel” from a tree so there will be something to open on Christmas morning.

And what if this pattern was repeated, year after year, until that child had lost all hope? My struggle to endure my kitchen project seems very small in comparison to years spent wishing for a permanent family and a loving home. I’m an adult. I can see that the project will get completed, and this disruption is brief in the scheme of things. But a child in need may not see a “light at the end of the tunnel”. Now, you may be thinking that I am about to suggest you send money somewhere. While monetary donations are always needed and appreciated by churches and nonprofits serving children and youth, giving money is not what everyone is called to do.

Look around you.

View the circles in which you travel through a different lens—one that notices a family that may be struggling. They are out there.

Reach out.

Invite them over for a hot meal and a time of fellowship.

Offer to care for their children so the parents can revive their strength.

By opening your home, and offering encouragement and support, you may help keep that family intact. There are children and youth who will spend many more Christmases without a home and a family, but you can have an impact on their quality of life. Not everyone is called to foster and adopt, but everyone can do something. Prayerfully ask yourself, “What is my something?” If you need ideas, please let us know. We are here to guide you through the coming year as you commit to give of yourself and your talents to serve vulnerable children. Share the “heart of your home,” and while doing so, you will be sharing the love of Christ.

Blog post by Amber Fulton

Director of Operations, Embrace Texas

Locating Missing Children in CPS Conservatorship

Children are in foster care because they, or their sibling(s), have experienced abuse and/or neglect. Having experienced trauma in their lives, these young children are particularly vulnerable to being exploited by outside persons. When a child is in CPS conservatorship and runs away, it is extremely important that the agency put every effort to quickly locate the child before they are exploited.

National data underscores the need to find runaway children quickly:

  • Children are being approached for sex trafficking within 48 hours of running away
  • Many of the children approached are in the age range of 12 to 16
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children had 18,500 runaways reported to them in2016. One in six were deemed likely victims of sex trafficking. Of those likely victims, 86% were in the care of social services or the foster care system when they ran.In 2014, President Obama signed into law the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, Public Law (P.L. 113-183). This law amends the title IV-E foster care program to require child welfare agencies such as DFPS to:
  • Develop and implement specific protocols for expeditiously locating any child missing from foster care;
  • Determine the primary factors that contributed to the child’s running away or otherwise being absent from care, and to the extent possible and appropriate, respond to those factors in current and subsequent placements;
  • Determine the child’s experiences while absent from care, including screening the child to determine if the child is a possible sex trafficking victim;
  • Report such related information as required by Health and Human Services; and
  • No later than 24 hours after receiving information on missing or abducted children or youth, providenecessary information to law enforcement authorities for entry into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and provide necessary information to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Click Here for the full DFPS Resource Guide