August 2021 In the Mat-Su

  • 483 children are in out-of-home care.
  • 70 of those children are legally free for adoption.
  • 14 of those children have yet to identify a permanent family.
  • In 2019 97 Mat-Su children were adopted.
  • In 2020 75 Mat-Su children were adopted.

...This is why we STAND.

The Transformation of the Mat-Su Valley:

In 2016 a transformation began to take place in the Mat-Su Valley. A shift, a refocus, a unity. While it was brought in by agencies and educators we felt the unmistakable voice of God in it. It was the beginning of a powerful question ..... "What if?"

What if..........we took the focus off failure and began to look at strengths?

What if..........we began to take a strengthening families approach to replace a culture of blame and shame

What if..........we didn't just refer people to specialist agencies, but came together to ask "How can we help?"

 

Two powerful words that shifted culture. Culture that came together on shared values despite different beliefs..... strengths over weaknesses, "we" over "me", safe homes, strong families.

 

It was in this culture that we learned about Strengthening Families.

Did you know that there are five protective factors that substantially decrease the likelihood of child abuse and trauma?  These protective factors became our shared language, our shared values, our community focus.

 

Together we also learned about Adverse Childhood Experiences and explored how to educate our community on the prevention of child sexual abuse through Stewards of Children trainings. The greatest investors in carrying this vision for our community were ROCK Mat-Su and the Mat-Su Health Foundation. Their drive towards the health and well-being of individuals and families in our community has been outrageously generous, professionally executed, and well informed. Thank you.

What do you stand for? Who do you stand with?

In light of the chronic breakdown of families being experienced in the Mat-Su, we are compelled to ask these two challenging questions. Everyone can do something to impact families, you can make a difference. This series of videos is designed to introduce you to Church on the Rock’s community partners and to help inspire you to be salt and light in our community to impact children by bringing hope and healing, one child at a time...

IN THE SHELTER OF HIS WINGS

A Vision for Strengthening Families in Alaska.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Psalm 91:1,4

This Native Alaskan story mask carries with it a deeply personal vision for the strengthening of our families in Alaska.  It is a collaborative piece.  It tells one story from two perspectives, with one vision, one hope.  “In the Shelter of His Wings” was created by DJ Angaiak who not only crafted the mask, but also helped to shape and mold its story.  In this mask you will see Native Alaskan and Western influences interwoven by a common root of deep connection to the heart of our Father God, and a deep desire to see strong, thriving families in Alaska. – Julia Bolles

THE BLESSING

During the run up to The Stand 2020 our nation was in the thick of race riots and civil unrest, a season of racial division. There had to be a spiritual response to that. A declaration of God’s Word. We wanted to communicate God’s generational blessing for the varied cultures and families in our community. You will hear this blessing expressed in (in order) American English, Russian, Latin American Spanish, Tagalog, and Native American vocables. This is us.

I can Prevent Crisis

Building a circle of community around a struggling family can prevent crisis and keep kids safe. Meet Dawn Paulson from Safe Families for Children to find out how you can be part of a circle of support for families in crisis.

I can be a part of Foster Care Reform

We are changing the way that the child welfare system works. You can be part of the solution! Hear from Jessica Clarkson from the FIT Court and Ginny Moring from the Office of Children’s Services to find out how to help families work towards reunification. You can apply to be a foster parent or help by being part of a child-centered team.

Family Contact Initiative

For years now, many families in the foster care system have struggled to have frequent, meaningful, culturally-centered family contact times. In 2017, the Butler Institute for Families partnered with R.O.C.K. Mat-Su and our local Office of Children’s Services (OCS) to change that. This fall the Family Contact Initiative partnership is set to launch systemic reforms to engage families, community partners, and OCS staff to strengthen these families through meaningful family contact. We have been privileged to be part of this process alongside partners like BeaconHill.

Permanency - Forever families

Hear about children living with a belief that they are unwanted and unloved. Discover how you can stand with Dawn Adams from The Office of Children’s Services and Sharon Bronnee from the Heart Gallery of Alaska to bring hope and healing to children who are still searching for a forever family.

Watch the Podcast on Foster Care and Adoption

Join the Jonathans as they discuss the role of the church in foster care and adoption. Jonathan Walker and Codie Farrington share their personal stories as an adoptive parent and an adult aging out of the foster care system.

Next Steps

1

SFFC Connections & Questions event

2

Foster Parent FAQ and Orientation

3

Heart Gallery Adoption Orientation

4

TBRI

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Understanding and supporting attachment in adoptive families:
Cheat Sheet or Order Book

Mentor men:
Band of Brothers

Support Children in Foster Care:
REACH 907AK (formerly Royal Family KIDS)

Learn how to care for children who have experienced trauma:
Empowered to Connect

Support parents through unexpected pregnancies and parenting:
Heart Reach

Support kids through the court system:
CASA

Foster Parent resources and Trainings:
Alaska Center for Resource Families