The nonprofit organization 200 Million Flowers has teamed up with the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services in an effort to recruit 300 new foster families by offering one-hour training orientations next week in Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Pascagoula and Biloxi.
The effort, called Rescue 100, is a pathway to train prospective foster parents. The expedited process takes three days, as opposed to the nine months to a year through the traditional route.
The way it works is interested families must first attend one of the one-hour, faith-based orientations April 17, 18, 24 or 25. After orientation, families can register for a three-day training weekend May 5-7 in Gulfport. Over that weekend, participants are able to complete the entire training necessary to become licensed foster parents. Social workers will then conduct home studies in the following three months to finalize licensing.
Rescue 100 was started in 2016 by the Rev. Tony Karnes of Michael Memorial Baptist Church in Gulfport, who began recruiting foster families from his church congregation. The nonprofit, 200 Million Flowers, was co-founded in Ridgeland by attorney Craig Robertson and wife, Rachel, in 2011.
Robertson said there are about 5,000 children in foster care but more than 7,000 churches in Mississippi.
“If a family from every church would take in one child,” he said, “we would have a waiting list of families, not children.”
Rescue 100’s goal is to recruit 300 new foster families by the end of the year. Although there’s a need for foster homes all over the state, more than half are needed in the southern part of the state, particularly Hancock, Pearl River, Marion, Harrison, Forrest and Jackson counties.
Attendance at one of the one-hour orientations is required to attend the May 5-7 training weekend. To register, visit Rescue100.org.
Key upcoming dates
- April 17: Rescue 100 orientation in Bay St. Louis
- April 18: Rescue 100 orientation in Gulfport
- April 24: Rescue 100 orientation in Pascagoula
- April 25: Rescue 100 orientation in Biloxi
- May 5-7: Training weekend (for qualified families that attended orientation)