Child Service Agencies and Churches Unite to Find a Family For Every Child in OC

ANAHEIM, Calif. — An ambitious plan to eliminate the number of vulnerable children without a caring family in Orange County by 2020 using a church-to-church partnership with the county was presented at Vision Night For OC earlier this week.

More than 100 people, some representing more than 30 churches, met to discuss the best ways to activate the plan, one that was successfully implemented in the entire nation of Rwanda, organizers said. The presentation of the initiative to help vulnerable children was held at Saddleback Church Anaheim on Tuesday and included six representatives of different areas of child care within the County of Orange program.

“Find a family for every child in OC by 2020 and equip the Church to care for them,” Max McGhee, who is a pastor within the Orphan Care ministry at Saddleback Church, said towards the end of the evening presentation. “It’s that simple,” he said, as he pointed to the initiative’s goal projected on a screen which included “#ZEROby2020.”

Michael Donaldson, who is the Director of Pastoral Care for Families at the Diocese of Orange, has committed to being a big part of the “Zero by 2020 Vision.” He said, “Whether people become resource families, organize fellowships or form opportunities for families, or even create prayer chains, each of us can make a difference in the lives of children needing a family of their own.”

TLA Orphan Care Scott Burdick

Scott Burdick, MFT Deputy Director
Department of Children and Family Services, said that the county’s child welfare program recognizes the importance of partnering with churches and the initiative will help make vulnerable children and hurting families a “community issue.”

“Churches have been such a foundational support to meet not just some of the physical needs but to meet some of the mentoring [needs],” said Burdick during a videotaped interview. “This has been something, that in my over 20 years with the county, that really has become such a passion: how we can begin to try to make this a community issue?”

Child abuse is an innermost secret for families suffering from the problem, he said, and while they are in their most vulnerable moments it becomes “so important for these churches to really make connections with these families.”

“It’s (the initiative) an amazing opportunity for us as a county and I really believe it’s an amazing opportunity for those churches and community members to really make a positive impact and to make a difference,” Burdick said. “If it’s just one life, it’s all worth it because it multiplies. Now we are looking at an opportunity to impact the county as a whole. My hope is that this is something that continues to grow and blossom, that it happens not just in Orange County, but Orange County becomes a model for us to do this across the state, across the country, and really, across the world.”

Organizers said the “God-size goal” can be accomplished with the help of local government and a church-to-church strategy.

“As long as just one vulnerable child is waiting for a loving family to take them home, we should not rest,” leaders behind the initiative said.

To learn more, contact initiative leaders at 949.609.8555 or orphans@saddleback.com.

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