By Maleri McHam – En Español
Across the nation, some 2.5 million children are put in situations where they are being raised by their kin after being removed from their biological parents. This is especially true in East Texas. That’s why Rev. David McGlocklin is bringing Kinship Ministry to the area, to provide these children and their caretakers with needed resources.
McGlocklin, who is the pastor at Cheatham Memorial UMC, was recently awarded a grant totaling $10,000 from the Texas Annual Conference Innovation Lab to go towards his idea of Kinship Ministry.
Innovation Lab was created to help congregations, pastors or districts be able to impact their mission and ministry in innovative ways. Projects eligible to receive funding are those that aim to implement new ideas and make disciples of Jesus Christ in the community.
Kinship is a federally funded program that provides the resources needed for county social services and congregations to partner together to provide support for children and adults in instances where the child is being raised by a family member.
McGlocklin said he saw a big need for the Kinship Ministry program in his area. A large portion of foster children in Van Zandt County and the Tyler region are being raised by kin such as aunts, uncles, older siblings and especially grandparents.
Not enough foster homes
“In the region we’re in, there are not many foster homes so they try to place as many of the children with family members as possible,” he said.
Foster homes have numerous resources available for both the children and caregivers, but that is not the case for children being raised by their kin.
“Kinship Ministry is that bridge,” McGlocklin said. “It’s a faith based initiative that works with the local social services agencies to provide a care system for the caretaker.”
The idea of the Kinship Ministry is for caregivers and the children to be able to meet at the church regularly for a meal, prayer, discussions as family groups, playtime for the children, tutoring, counseling and many other services.
This will help the children and adults not only have access to services but also provide support from others who are facing the same situation, McGlocklin said.
“I’ve already made contact with our county judge, with CASA and all the other social agencies out here and there’s no program like this anywhere in the region,” he said.
Having previously been the pastor at a church in San Bernardino, California where there was a Kinship program, McGlocklin said he knows this can be a benefit to the community.
In San Bernardino, there was a lot of poverty which subsequently led to homeless children, he said. Many of the kids were being bounced from one family member’s house to another.
In this instance “this program really helped those who are caretakers find a space to breathe, and learn some techniques to prepare children who were at a disadvantage. Through this program, these kids will be able to come up to a level where they are equal to their peers in the area who were in an intact, original family,” McGlocklin said.
Cheatham Memorial UMC is partnering with Pleasant Retreat and Perkins School of Theology to bring this program to the area.
The two churches are co-funding the salary for an intern from Perkins. The individual selected as the intern is Deborah Wade who is on the beacon track. Her role will be to put together a pilot program for Kinship Ministry so it can be promoted across the district and conference, McGlocklin said. The hope is to launch the program full time next year.
Receiving the Innovation Lab Grant “was key for us to be able to move forward and make all the commitments we needed to be able to launch this,” he said. McGlocklin went on to say that he is very grateful to the Conference Leadership Team for putting this together to encourage innovation in the TAC.
The funding will help cover the ministry side of the program such as providing food, materials, advertising and more that will need to be done to launch the pilot program. This initial funding to get the program off the ground is seed money to help them later apply for state and federal grants, McGlocklin said.
“I just think this will be a great state, county and church partnership where faith and the community can come together to serve a population that’s underserved,” he said. “It also gives an opportunity for the church to interface with children who may have no faith community as the grandparents are just trying to figure out life and trying to raise a child that they weren’t expecting.”