In 2006, a handful of passionate volunteers in McKinney, TX gathered to brainstorm ways the local church could lead the charge in caring for vulnerable children in the community. The team developed a strategy to improve outcomes for neglected and abused children by recruiting foster and adoptive families, and providing wrap-around care for these families. The ministry rallied volunteers to meet practical needs for children and deliver meals to families. Embrace’s support group provided valuable training and fellowship to families opening their homes to care for kids. As Embrace interacted with more families, new needs were uncovered. Services expanded to include church-based respite care nights, ongoing training opportunities, accessible family events, and a moms retreat.
By partnering with Child Protective Services and local child placing agencies to host informational meetings and foster parent training, Embrace began to positively impact not only the quantity of foster parents in Collin County, but the health and retention rates for these families as well. At a time when few resources existed for churches wanting to serve vulnerable children, Embrace began to connect with churches from across the State of Texas to help launch similar efforts in other areas of the state. The mission and scope of Embrace’s services quickly outgrew the capacity of its dedicated volunteers. With the support of the ministry’s Board, co-founders Denise and Bruce Kendrick took the leap to become Embrace’s first full-time staff members. The ministry left the umbrella of the local church and became a 501c3 nonprofit, “Embrace Waiting Children, Inc.”.
In 2012, Embrace’s founders were honored as Child Advocates of the Year by the North American Council on Adoptable Children in Washington, DC. Embrace was invited to join the Texas Child Protection Roundtable and the Texas Supreme Court Children’s Commission in 2013 as a voice for the Church to advocate for children and families. In 2014, Embrace secured a unique Memorandum of Understanding with Child Protective Services to become an advocate for children lingering in foster care, waiting for adoption. This collaborative effort united local congregations with the goal of a home and family for every child in Collin County. Child to Family Connection events brought together caseworkers and prospective adoptive parents to find possible adoption “matches” for waiting children. Children and teens represented through this groundbreaking effort spend less time languishing without permanency and are less likely to “age-out” of foster care.
In 2015 and 2016 members of the Embrace staff were honored as Angels in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute in Washington, DC by Congressman Sam Johnson. The Embrace Church Network was launched in 2016 to provide a platform to connect churches, community groups, and volunteers with the needs of local children and families. A foster care crisis in 2021 left hundreds of children in foster care across the State sleeping in makeshift shelters, CPS offices, and budget motels. Embrace launched and emergency capital campaign to create a safe haven for these children without placement. In less than 90 days, the Embrace Team raised funds for a downpayment and established Collin House. In 2023, privatization of the foster care system began in the DFW area. Embrace successfully bridged all programming for the 3E Region of Texas with the contractor, Empower.
Today, Embrace continues to innovate foster care and adoption ministry efforts by incubating programs in Collin County through local churches and multiplying those efforts to other areas of Texas and the rest of the country. The Embrace office is located near the Historic Square of McKinney, Texas, where you will find the Embrace Staff hard at work connecting willing hands with opportunities to serve children in foster, adoptive and kinship care.
Bruce and Denise Kendrick, along with a small group of passionate volunteers, founded Embrace in McKinney, Texas in 2007. The Kendricks are high school sweethearts who have nine children by birth and adoption, and three adorable grandchildren. Bruce and Denise were foster parents in Texas for over decade, caring for over 25 children in that time. In addition to caring for neglected and abused children, the Kendricks have been kinship providers, mentors, parent coaches, and fierce advocates for our community’s most vulnerable citizens.
After ten years of serving with Embrace and carrying the message that the Church must lead the evangelical orphan care movement, Bruce returned to leading church ministry in Fall 2017. Bruce is an ordained pastor currently serving as the Director of Life Initiatives at Watermark Community Church in Dallas.
Denise led Embrace as the Director of Programs for over a decade before being selected to step into the role of Executive Director in 2017. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas in Denton. Denise was honored by the late Representative Sam Johnson and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute as an “Angel in Adoption”. Under Denise’s leadership the ministry has grown to reach 50% more children and families per year with direct services and programming. In 2021 Embrace purchased a small campus in Historic Downtown McKinney. Embrace offices were relocated to this site and, in 2022, Embrace opened Collin House, a safe, temporary home for children entering foster care while they wait for placement.