Children At Risk

One less. That’s our heartbeat. We want to see one less child abandoned, one less child aborted, and one less child trafficked. We are passionate about demonstrating God’s love and compassion and sharing the hope of the Gospel with at-risk children. We seek to mobilize the Grace Church family to explore hosting, fostering, or adopting; to care for the unborn by coming alongside those facing an unplanned pregnancy; and to engage in outreach opportunities impacting vulnerable children and youth.

Explore OneLess

Wed, Nov 14 | Eden Prairie Campus Door 1 Commons, 5:30p-8:30p

Find out how you can make a difference in the life of an at-risk child! Visit our ministry fair where you can meet our ministry partners and families who have been involved in the lives of at-risk children. Learn about temporarily hosting, fostering, or adopting a child as well as opportunities to serve.

Host

Visit with Together For Good staff and other Grace families who host children. Ask questions, gather info, and consider if this is a fit for you. If you cannot host children in your home, there are many other ways you can provide support and serve.

Foster

We will have reps from private agencies that license families for foster care as well as info about county agencies. Staff can help explain the difference as each path has its pros and cons. And Grace families who foster can share their journey. Info will also cover Foster-Adopt, as there are many waiting children in our foster care system.

Adopt

We will have resources and reps from local agencies as well as Grace families who have adopted children. They will be available to answer questions and help connect you to further resources as you decide if adoption journey for you!

Support

If you are a current adoptive family, we have support groups from moms and a new group starting for dads. Stop by to meet the leaders and get more info.

Hosting Kids

Providing support to vulnerable families before their child(ren) end up in the foster care system is a huge need and an incredible opportunity to share the love of Jesus and the hope of the Gospel. One of the ways to provide help is by temporarily hosting children. This gives the parent(s) needed respite so that they can regain stability.

As a church, we are committed to supporting our host families. We provide practical resources including diapers and clothing. If you are hosting, we’d love to stay connected. Contact Kirsten at  .

How do I become a host family?

We partner with Together for Good, a faith-based non-profit that uses a holistic, Gospel-centered approach to coming alongside isolated families. To begin the process of becoming a host family, visit tfgood.org and click on the link to “JOIN.” Then Together For Good staff will follow-up with next steps.

How long does hosting typically last?

The average length of stay is about six weeks, but placements can last from three days to three months. Some factors affecting the length of stay include the severity of the family’s crisis and the willingness of the biological parent to address the issues involved in the crisis. You can also sign-up to provide respite hosting, which means you will support a family who is providing longer-term care by hosting for short stays.

What type of child can I expect?

These are normal children coming from sometimes very difficult circumstances. Each child will respond to the situation differently, depending on their personality and coping skills. Some may show little response to their life circumstances while others may be deeply affected. Please note that the children are not believed to be victims of abuse or neglect. If they were, they would have been placed in foster care and not eligible for hosting.

Who can host kids?

Singles, married couples with children of any age, or couples without children are welcome to host kids.

I cannot host kids at this time. Is there anything else I can do?

YES, there are many ways to engage! You can support a host family with practical needs: help drive, provide a meal, or run errands. Or you can invest relationally in a biological mother. In most cases, hosted kids are being raised by a single mother, and to move forward and work through their crisis, they need to a healthy support system. You could invite her to church or Bible study, help her learn new life skills, apply for a job, etc. There are so many ways you can serve!

Foster Care

Providing critical, temporary care and housing for children in crisis is an ongoing need throughout our state. In addition to regular foster care, there are also opportunities to provide short-term and specialized foster care.

One way to begin your foster care journey is through Bethany Christian Services. Bethany provides licensing, training, and support for foster families. Further information can also be found at Carver County, Scott County, and Hennepin County.

As a church, we want to provide support and encourage to our foster care families. If you are currently providing foster care or beginning the process, email Kirsten Bengtson at  .

Adopting From Foster Care

While the primary goal of foster care is to reunite children with their birth families, this is not always the case. As of September 2016, there were almost 500 Minnesota "waiting children" in need of adoptive families. For a listing of Minnesota children currently waiting for adoption and for information about the adoption process, you can visit MNAdopt.org. Bethany Christian Services also assists with adoption from foster care, including training for adoptive parents.

Adoption

We want to encourage and support adoptive families and families as they journey through the adoption process.

Adoption Resources

The process of choosing an adoption agency and understanding the overall adoption process can be overwhelming. This resource list — while not exhaustive — provides various adoption agencies used or recommended by Grace families as well as adoption grants and loans, resource websites, blogs, and books.

Adoption Scholarships

Adoption scholarships are used to support families within Grace Church that are adopting domestically or internationally. These scholarships directly support our strategic initiative to care for children-at-risk. Find out more about our applicant criteria and process.

Adoption Support

Our adoption support consists of a variety of ways to connect with other adoptive families. We have Connected Child book studies, periodic equipping sessions, and opportunities for dads as well. Our goal is to encourage parents through community to help them face the unique challenges of parenting adopted children and support them with prayer, care, and resources on their journey.

For more information, contact Kirsten Bengtson at .

Teen Moms

Coming alongside single, young women facing an unintended pregnancy and those who are parenting is a priority for us. Here is an overview of what we're doing and ways you can engage.

Mentoring and Outreach

Embrace Grace: A Group for Single, Young Pregnant Women

Embrace Grace provides emotional, practical, and spiritual support for single, young pregnant women who find themselves in an unintended pregnancy. It is a 12-week program (Feb-May) that teaches young women about God’s love and grace, and at the end, we throw a baby shower to honor them for choosing life and to help provide for their babies’ needs.

If you're interested in serving or if you'd like to join the group or refer another teen who is expecting, contact Kirsten at .

We use the program and curriculum provided through Embrace Grace Ministries. For more information about this program, visit embracegrace.com.

Embrace Life: A Group for Single, Young Moms

Embrace Life equips single, new moms so that they can learn to flourish in their relationship with God and not only survive in life but thrive! These brave moms will learn spiritual and practical ways to help navigate their way through life so they can rediscover their capabilities, passions, and dreams. Embrace Life meets weekly and includes a fall semester (Sep-Dec) and a spring semester (Feb-May). Each semester ends with a Life Adventure Day, focused on blessing each mom in a fun way.

Interested in serving? Or are you interested in joining the group or referring another teen mom, contact Kirsten at .

We use the program and curriculum provided through Embrace Grace Ministries. For more information about this program, visit embracegrace.com.

Wednesdays, Sep 19 - Dec 19 | 6p-8p, Eden Prairie Campus Room 223
Dinner and childcare provided.

Register Volunteer

Mentoring and Outreach

Kids' Clubs and Camps

Serve at one of our several clubs and camps that reach across cultural borders to share the Gospel.

Royal Family Kids Camp

The primary purpose of Royal Family KIDS Camp is to give children, ages 6-12, who are in foster care, a week of positive memories and royal treatment in a Christian camp environment. Each child that attends Royal Family KIDS Camp will receive attention and encouragement from an adult camp counselor (i.e., his/her “buddy camper”). In addition, each camper is also exposed to a variety of fun activities where they learn more about their Heavenly Father and His love and care for them. For most of these children, it’s the best week of the year – a special time when they can focus on having fun and enjoy being a kid.

Team member opportunities include:

  • 1:1 Camp Counselor
  • Support Staff
  • Craft Leader
  • Licensed Nurse
  • Licensed Social Worker

Questions: Contact Kirsten at

Akina Camps

Join us in hosting a fun camp for kids, 5-12 years old, from the United Tribes of Little Earth! These kids have earned a trip to camp through regular attendance at our weekly Kids Club, and are always excited to go! There are many ways to serve in these summer retreats, including cooking, games, music, worship, crafts, or just building a relationship with a camper.

Akina Kids' Clubs

Each week during the school year, we hold a fun Akina Kids Club for the children of Little Earth of United Tribes in Minneapolis! The children come to Akina Community Church and eat supper, play games, and have Bible lessons.

There are many opportunities to serve, including: small group leader, food helper, crafts/games leader, 1:1 helper for children with special needs. Anyone ages 14 years or older is welcome to serve, and younger children can join if accompanied by a parent. If you’re interested in joining our team, please complete this application. For more information, contact Kirsten at   or Leah at  .

Stop The Trafficking

There are over 20 million slaves today — more than any other point in history. Modern-day slavery or human trafficking is the selling of a human being by means of force, fraud, or coercion to be used for labor or sex. No country is immune, including our state and our own communities. The average age of entry for sex trafficking victims in the United States is 12–14 years old.

We have the opportunity to engage with our community to make a difference – through prayer, awareness events, and reaching out to survivors of sex trafficking. Consider joining us in one or more of these initiatives!

Prayer

Our text-based prayer group is a community-wide effort in partnership with area churches to support local police on the front lines in the fight to end sex trafficking. We have connections with Christian police officers in Eden Prairie and the larger metro-area who update us as prayer needs arise. These requests are focused on operations to target buyers, those trying to purchase a minor for sex or victims who have been identified but are not yet recovered. We ask all those who receive the text stop and pray for it in the moment and throughout the week. To join, simply text the keyword JOINSTT to 43506. Download more information.

Outreach

We have the opportunity to reach out to those currently involved the life of exploitation as well as helping survivors of sex trafficking. Through partnerships with local organizations, we assist with practical needs, partner through Big Serve events, host retreats, assemble and provide Blessing Bags, and more. For more info, email Christine Erickson.

5K Event

We begin planning our annual June 5k event in the fall, and there are many opportunities to help with sponsorships, promotions, and race-day preparations. And of course, we’d love to have you join us on race day. For more info, email Christine Erickson. All proceeds support anti-trafficking organizations with an emphasis on supporting the restoration of sexually-exploited youth.

Children At Risk Staff

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