Children At Risk

One less. That’s our heartbeat. 

Children at Risk, also known as OneLess, focuses on caring for children in vulnerable places. We want to see one less child abandoned, one less child aborted, and one less child trafficked. To accomplish our mission, we support Grace Church families as they pursue adoption, foster care, or temporarily hosting children. We embrace single moms who are pregnant or parenting as well as those healing from terminated pregnancies. We also raise awareness, pray, and reach out to victims of human trafficking in our communities.

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 traditional foster care, there are also opportunities to provide short-term and specialized foster care through counties or private agencies. Listed below are ways to begin your foster care journey.

Counties and Private Agencies

For licensing and placement information, please visit Carver County, Scott County, Hennepin, or Dakota County. Private agencies such as St. David’s and Bethany Christian Services provide licensing, training, and support for foster families.

Foster Parent Support and Resouces

  • Foster Care Reimbursement Fund – These funds are used to support families within Grace Church who are fostering. These funds directly support our strategic initiative to care for at-risk children. Find out more about our applicant criteria and process.
  • Support Groups – Foster care support consists of a variety of ways to connect with other foster and adoptive families. We have Connected Child book studies and periodic equipping sessions. Our goal is to encourage parents through community to help them face the unique challenges of parenting children in foster care and support them with prayer, care, and resources on their journey. For more information, contact Kirsten Bengtson at .

Current Support Groups

  • Need a little break? Enjoy an evening out while your kids get a fun-filled evening of games and activities. This free event is for 0- to 12-year-old foster, adopted, or host children and their siblings. A pizza dinner will be served.

*Note: Our Respite Nights are currently paused due to COVID-19. We will update this page as soon as we schedule our next event.

  • Safe Haven Foster Shoppe creates placement bags for children when they are first assigned a foster home. These bags are age-, gender-, and size-specific and are delivered to the child’s new foster home upon request.
  • Foster the Love creates placement bags for children when they are first assigned a foster home. They also provide support and extensive resources for foster parents.

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

Serving Opportunities

Royal Family Kids Camp Volunteer Staff

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

2021 Applications Coming Soon

Foster/Adoptive Respite Night Volunteers

Volunteers are crucial to making our Respite Nights a success for foster and adoptive families. Volunteers play with children while helping the night run smoothly. Opportunities include crafts, games, gym time, a movie, and more. These events are a beautiful opportunity to love on and affirm children who have experienced trauma.

*Note: Our Respite Nights are currently paused due to COVID-19. We will update this page as soon as we schedule our next event.

Support a Foster, Adoptive or Host Family

You can support a foster, adoptive, or host family in the following ways:

  • Provide meals – Taking on extra children is taking on extra appointments, visits, school meetings, and more. Providing a cooked or freezer meal can give a family a much-needed break.
  • Laundry – Offer to do a family's laundry.
  • Transportation – Visits are common with foster and host children, depending on the length of the placement. Offering to transport a child to visits or any of the family's children to commitments can really minister to a family.
  • Childcare – If you're trained to care for children in foster care, or have been trained through TFG to care for host children, you could offer to watch the family's children while the parents enjoy a much-needed break.
  • Run errands – With more children, there are always more errands to run, so offering to run errands for a family can be a great blessing to them.
  • Home maintenance – Offer to help with lawn care, shoveling snow, etc.
  • Tutor – Many host, foster, and adoptive children are behind in school, and it's tough to get caught up. If you enjoy teaching, tutoring could really help a child.
  • Offer your service – What are your gifts? Can you use them in this ministry? (e.g. – music lessons, art lessons, sports lessons, photography, etc.)
  • Donate gift cards – Gas cards, pizza cards, etc. can help with the extra load.

You will receive periodic requests related to the above areas. If you would like to proactively offer help in any of the above areas, please let us know, and we will present your offer to our foster, adoptive, and host families. To join the support team, please email Katie Morton at .

Adoption

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

Adoptive Parent Support and 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.

Current Support Groups

  • Need a break? Enjoy an evening out while your kids get a fun-filled evening of games and activities. This free event is for 0- to 12-year-old foster, adopted, or host children and their siblings. A pizza dinner will be served.

*Note: Our Respite Nights are currently paused due to COVID-19. We will update this page as soon as we schedule our next event.

  • 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.

Serving Opportunities

Foster/Adoptive Respite Night Volunteers

Volunteers are crucial to making our Respite Nights a success for foster and adoptive families. Volunteers play with children while helping the night run smoothly. Opportunities include crafts, games, gym time, a movie, and more. These events are a beautiful opportunity to love on and affirm children who have experienced trauma.

*Note: Our Respite Nights are currently paused due to COVID-19. We will update this page as soon as we schedule our next event.

Support a Foster, Adoptive or Host Family

You can support an adoptive, foster, or host family in the following ways:

  • Provide meals – Taking on extra children is taking on extra appointments, visits, school meetings, and more. Providing a cooked or freezer meal can give a family a much-needed break.
  • Laundry – Offer to do a family's laundry.
  • Transportation – Visits are common with foster and host children, depending on the length of the placement. Offering to transport a child to visits or any of the family's children to commitments can really minister to a family.
  • Childcare – If you're trained to care for children in foster care, or have been trained through TFG to care for host children, you could offer to watch the family's children while the parents enjoy a much-needed break.
  • Run errands – With more children, there are always more errands to run, so offering to run errands for a family can be a great blessing to them.
  • Home maintenance – Offer to help with lawn care, shoveling snow, etc.
  • Tutor – Many host, foster, and adoptive children are behind in school, and it's tough to get caught up. If you enjoy teaching, tutoring could really help a child.
  • Offer your service – What are your gifts? Can you use them in this ministry? (e.g. – music lessons, art lessons, sports lessons, photography, etc.)
  • Donate gift cards – Gas cards, pizza cards, etc. can help with the extra load.

You will receive periodic requests related to the above areas. If you would like to proactively offer help in any of the above areas, please let us know and we will present your offer to our adoptive, foster, and host families. To join the support team, please email Katie Morton at .

Serve

Making a commitment to host, foster, or adopt a child is a big step and might not be something you’re able to do. There are many other ways to engage and make a difference through our OneLess ministry. Here are additional ways you can get involved:

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

2021 Applications Coming Soon

If you have questions, please reach out to Katie Morton at .

Respite Night Volunteers

Volunteers are crucial to making our Respite Nights a success for foster and adoptive families. Volunteers play with children while helping the night run smoothly. Opportunities include crafts, games, gym time, a movie, and more. These events are a beautiful opportunity to love on and affirm children who have experienced trauma. If you would like to get involved, please email Katie Morton at  .

*Note: Our Respite Nights are currently paused due to COVID-19. We will update this page as soon as we schedule our next event.

Support a Host, Foster or Adoptive Family

You can support a foster, adoptive, or host family in the following ways:

  • Provide meals – Taking on extra children is taking on extra appointments, visits, school meetings, and more. Providing a cooked or freezer meal can give a family a much-needed break.
  • Laundry – Offer to do a family's laundry.
  • Transportation – Visits are common with foster and host children, depending on the length of the placement. Offering to transport a child to visits or any of the family's children to commitments can really minister to a family.
  • Childcare – If you're trained to care for children in foster care, or have been trained through TFG to care for host children, you could offer to watch the family's children while the parents enjoy a much-needed break.
  • Run errands – With more children, there are always more errands to run, so offering to run errands for a family can be a great blessing to them.
  • Home maintenance – Offer to help with lawn care, shoveling snow, etc.
  • Tutor – Many host, foster, and adoptive children are behind in school, and it's tough to get caught up. If you enjoy teaching, tutoring could really help a child.
  • Offer your service – What are your gifts? Can you use them in this ministry? (e.g. – music lessons, art lessons, sports lessons, photography, etc.)
  • Donate gift cards – Gas cards, pizza cards, etc. can help with the extra load.

You will receive periodic requests related to the above areas. If you would like to proactively offer help in any of the above areas, please let us know, and we will present your offer to our foster, adoptive, and host families. To join the support team, please email Katie Morton at .

Mentor Young, Single Moms

We have the opportunity to mentor young, single moms who attend New Beginnings, a full-day high school for parenting and pregnant teen girls located in Chaska. We also mentor those who attend our Embrace Grace and Embrace Life groups. Our goal is to come alongside, provide encouragement, assist with developing life skills, and share about Jesus as a trusting relationship is established. Mentoring also involves:

  • Completing the application, interview, and training
  • Attending quarterly mentor equipping meetings
  • Meeting 2x/month with your mentee for a minimum of one year
  • Demonstrating patience as building a trusting relationship may take a while

If you're interested in becoming a mentor, complete this form. This opportunity is limited to females, age 24+. If you have questions,  please email Kirsten Bengtson at  .

Together for Good Biological Mothers Outreach

By partnering with the organization Together For Good, we strive to come alongside and invest relationally in biological mothers. 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. To get involved, please email Kirsten Bengtson at .

Stop the Trafficking 5K Planning Team

Through our annual Stop the Trafficking 5K, we strive to fight injustice and human trafficking in our surrounding communities. All proceeds support anti-trafficking organizations with an emphasis on supporting the restoration of sexually-exploited youth. We begin planning our annual June 5K event in the fall. Our next planning meeting is in January 2020. There are many opportunities to help, including:

  • Sponsorships
  • Promotions
  • Race-day preparations

If you would like to get involved, please email Christine Erickson at .

Embrace Prayer Team

Join our e-mail prayer group and support young, single moms and their children through prayer. We believe prayer is powerful and foundational for our ministry. The struggles that single moms face can be overwhelming, but we know that nothing is too difficult for God. We want each mom and child to be covered in prayer on a weekly basis. When you sign-up to pray, you will receive an email with specific prayer requests for each mom. We ask that you take time to pray for each one. To sign-up, complete this form. If you have questions, please reach out to Kirsten Bengtson at .

Embrace Birthday Club

During the school year, September through May, we provide a birthday cake to celebrate teen moms who attend New Beginnings school, along with personalized cards. If you’re interested in helping with one or more months, please contact Kirsten Bengtson at .

Contact Us About Volunteering

Embrace

We embrace single women, in their teens and twenties, who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and those who are parenting. We also come alongside women who have had an abortion. We embrace each woman and extend God's love and care while sharing the beautiful Gospel message of grace, forgiveness, healing, redemption, and hope.

Learn More Current Embrace Groups

 

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, visit stopthetrafficking.org or 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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