March 17, 2014
Child Protective Services (CPS) has unveiled a faith-based program to the Diocese of Amarillo and other religions, in an effort to introduce faith to children and prospective parents.
The program is called the Congregations Helping in Love and Dedication, or CHILD, according to Leonor Espinoza, a Faith-Based General Recruiter for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
“CHILD is a program where we are trying to introduce Faith to the children and the prospective parents, while getting the churches and their communities involved with the children we work with,” she said. “A lot of our children do not understand what church is or who God is. We are working with the families who want to help by fostering a child or adopting a child to work through the churches.”
Espinoza said the CHILD program started in 2003, and her goal for her area, Region I, which covers 41 counties, is simple: recruit two families.
“We are trying to recruit as many families as we can throughout the whole region, which is the top 41 counties of Texas, and that covers many miles and many churches,” she said. “Our goal is to recruit at least two families per church, regardless of religion, as long as they can take care of our children.
“The families we recruit go through steps in the process. We provide training and offer informational meetings that teach our parents what fostering and adoption programs are all about, which helps to ease their concerns.”
While the goal is to recruit two families per church, Espinoza said the overall main goal is fostering or adopting the kids in the Child Protective Services program.
“There are many good people in our churches who might be interested in fostering children and others might be interested in adopting them,” she said. “There are a lot of steps to the process. I feel that our communities and our parents do not understand the process until we finally show them.
“We actually show them pictures of real children who are ready for fostering or for adopting. I do carry a Heart Gallery, which I can show to any church which invites me in. The pictures are of children whose parents’ rights have been terminated. Seeing these pictures, the hearts of prospective parents are moved to foster or adopt them. One of our major goals is the adoption of these children into a good family.”
For additional information about the CHILD program, contact Espinoza in Plainview at 806-296-3144 or 806-470-5197. She can also be reached through any of the CPS offices in Region I.
“The CHILD program is a very important program,” Espinoza said. “I feel that every church can help us in our program to protect our children. Our recruiters will always help with the application process. A church can adopt a child, a caseworker, can do Heart Galleries, or can make a donation for one of the children. There are many ways to help us and to help the children.”