As a teenager, I had an innate sense of justice, and it was particularly aimed at the foster care system. I saw how broken it was and how deeply wounded it left so many, and I was determined to be a part of the solution. I was quick to point out what was wrong with the system, the government, and the foster families.
I used my senior paper and senior project both to highlight the horrors of the system. I went on to major in Sociology and pursued a career in social work—all the while, fueled by frustration and bitterness towards the brokenness that I saw around me. Like many, I was paralyzed by the size of the problem and could see no real solution.
In my mid-twenties, I had a life-changing encounter with Jesus. I had the revelation—that Jesus is the hope of the world, and I felt a call to church ministry. The last seven years, I have been serving full time on staff at Bayside doing what I love—being a part of helping people encounter freedom and true hope. Two years ago, though, something shifted in me, and God began to remind me of this burden He put in my heart as a youth—even before I truly knew Him. Every time I heard someone talk about foster care or adoptions, I would instantly be brought to tears. For years I prayed “break my heart for what breaks yours,” and this season, in particular, He was answering that prayer. I could not get away from the thought that there are kids today—in our city, in our neighborhoods—without loving homes.
And once again a sense of justice rose up in me—but this time it was different. This time rather than only seeing an incredible problem, I saw an incredible opportunity.
Is the system broken? Yes.
But here is the truth: The state was never called to care for the orphans—the Church was.
James 1:27 clearly states “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
The Church has been called, anointed and equipped to be the solution. Nationwide there are over 400,000 kids in the foster care system. The state with the highest amount of kids in care is California with an overwhelming 54,685 kids in care.
The statistics are staggering—
● More than 23,000 children will age out of the US foster care system every year.
● After reaching the age of 18, 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless.
● 7 out of 10 girls who age out of the foster care system will become pregnant before the age of 21
● 1 out of every 2 kids who age out of the system will develop a substance dependence.
If we look at homelessness, drug addiction, sex trafficking, and trace back the lines, we see it all began in a broken home. This is not some foreign issue; it is here in our own backyard. The human rights society released a study showing that Sacramento is the second-worst city in the country for human trafficking. Half of all victims of trafficking are minors, and 70 percent are from the foster care system.
It is no secret that the family unit, as a whole, is currently in a fractured state, and it is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the problem. But, I believe Jesus was right when He said in Mark, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27
The reality is that we are perfectly positioned to effect change in the state with the greatest need in the nation. Pastor Ray always says, “Whoever wins the kids, wins the community,” and I believe that with all of my heart. If you want to change a community, there is no better place to start than the home, and there is no better time to start than now.
At Defending the Cause our goal is that in the greater Sacramento region in five years there would be “more than enough.”
More than enough—
○ Foster and kinship families for every child to have an ideal placement
○ Adoptive families for every child still waiting for adoption
○ Assistance for biological families trying to stabilize and reunify
○ Wrap-around support from the Church for foster, adoptive, and biological families.
This does not happen without the Church. Our mission is to mobilize the Church by educating, equipping, and empowering them to care for vulnerable kids and families.
Educating the Church provides information necessary to make a decision on getting involved. It involves having an accurate view of the problem as well as an avenue to be part of the solution. Simply put, people who know better—do better. This is not a calling for only a few—but everyone can do something.
Empowering the Church to be the solution creates a culture of caring for kids and families from hard places. Whether you make a meal for a foster family, provide childcare for a single mom, buy a stroller for a family in need, or actually open your home to a child without a family. Just as it takes a whole village to raise a child; it takes the whole Church to change a community.
Equipping the families involves providing the families who say “yes” the tools to succeed. Half of all foster families quit within the first year. Our goal is to create an environment that helps them win. This includes trauma training, tangible support, and a community who is willing to walk the road with them.
If I am honest when I first began this journey over two years ago, I was frustrated with the Church because I felt that we had so much resource and yet so little impact on the lives of kids from hard places. Then, one day, God used a simple conversation to show me that the Church is ready and willing to engage; they just need clarity and opportunity. I believe with all of my heart that the Church is the solution, and I am beyond proud to serve alongside Bayside in this new partnership. I believe in this so much that I have resigned my current role on staff at Bayside to work full time with Defending The Cause Regional Alliance helping to raise awareness and create a clear path for the Church as a whole to meet the need.
We are honored to partner with you at Bayside to ensure that every child in the Sacramento region has a safe and loving home. We could not do this without you.
Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the lonely in families.”
Not group homes.
Thank you for joining us in our mission to do the same.
– Heidi White
7 years at Bayside
To learn more about how you can get involved find us at https://www.defendingthecause.org/ and go the “Get involved” tab on the right and choose from prevention, intervention or support.