ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–In accomplishing the task set before them by Christ to minister to children in need, the Baptist Child Care Executives believe complete care includes helping children develop faith, according to at statement released by the organization.
“Baptists believe that complete care includes helping children develop faith,” the BCCE statement said. “We are not willing to carve out this element from our service plans. Most Baptist organizations explain that their approach in implementing this element is reasonable, not fanatical or coercive.”
The statement was a response to an ongoing situation in Tennessee in which the state Department of Children’s Services has stopped placing children in the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home. The DCS originally cited the home’s policy requiring children to attend church and asked that the policy be changed in order for placement to resume.
The statement, adopted by the heads of Baptist children’s homes at their 56th annual meeting March 31-April 2 in Orlando, Fla., noted that Baptist programs cooperate with the government in the service of children, and they see no inherent conflict with the two entities since the goal of both is the best interests of children.
Citing statistics, the BCCE said Baptists were among the early groups in America to begin offering alternative homes and related services for abused, neglected and homeless children. Today, Baptists have 23 children’s homes in 20 states, they said, representing 2,130 cumulative years of experience in the care of boys and girls.
Baptists employ 3,200 caregivers and, in 2003, they invested more than $150 million in serving more than 7,800 children and 110,000 families, according to the BCCE.
“Our collective base is our unswerving commitment to the Scriptural call to Kingdom service,” the BCCE statement said. “We believe that ministering to at-risk children in a Christ-centered way is critical to helping them make sound choices throughout their lives.
“Our shared objective as Baptist Child Care Executives is to be a primary resource in our respective states in order to address in a Christ-honoring way the needs of at-risk children who are first-person witnesses to the disintegration of the nuclear family in America,” the childcare executives said.