The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that is rapidly changing our world obviously affects the ministries of Missouri Baptist Children’s Home. Like everyone else, we are continuing to monitor this pandemic very closely. We are adjusting policies and procedures which allow us to follow the guidelines and restrictions developed by the health and governmental authorities. We balance that with continuing to provide care to children, youth and families who are hurting.
Missouri Baptist Children’s Home cares for children and teens who have nowhere else to go. More than 90% of the children in our care are placed in our programs by the Children’s Division of the State of Missouri or the juvenile court system.
These children have already suffered so much trauma and uncertainty in their young lives, and this pandemic adds to that trauma and uncertainty. We cannot close down our services without affecting the lives and well-being of children and teens, violating the conditions of our contracts with the State, and reducing our mission to serve God by responding to needs. We want to maintain as much “normal” and “usual” activity as we can to minimize a sense of anxiety and fear, which oftentimes leads to greed and selfish acts.
2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that “God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love and sound judgment.” (HCSB) We do not need to be afraid, but we do need to use sound judgment and base decisions on how we can best demonstrate God’s love in this crucial time.
First and foremost, we are reminding our staff that God is in control and will help us through this. We are encouraging and praying for one another throughout the day.
Internally, we are taking all of the reasonable safety precautions that everyone has seen dozens of times by now – hand washing, social distancing, etc. We are also seeking ways that are approved by the Children’s Division to limit the contact of our social workers and other staff with families and children. We are doing as much of our work as possible remotely by using the technology at our disposal. But in all this, the safety and wellbeing of our children are paramount.
Since the schools our children and teens attend are closed, our residents are restricted to their campus. “Home visits” are being done practicing social distancing and using “Skype” or “Facetime”. We are not allowing any visitors on campus to meet with clients.
Trainings for potential foster parents have been impacted and we are exploring what avenues we might want to pursue in order to continue to provide much needed foster parents for many of our placements.
This has really touched our clients in the developmentally disabled adults program. We have decided we cannot send them to work or on home visits or allow visits in the group homes. If the legal guardians wants to take their relatives home during this time, they are welcome to do so, with the understanding that the client cannot come back until the social distancing restrictions are relaxed. We also postponed the “Blessed Retreat” for DD adults throughout the state until another time, hopefully in the fall.
MBCH’s response to the pandemic also includes postponing or canceling the Afternoon with the Stars event in Branson that was scheduled for April 4. We are working with Clay Cooper to try to find a date in the fall. Letters have gone out to all those who bought tickets giving them options for handing this situation. Depending on how long the pandemic lasts and social distancing precautions remain in place, other events may also be canceled or moved. Please watch the MBCH website www.mbch.org for updates.
I also know that this pandemic is negatively impacting our churches and our donors. When churches cannot meet together physically, we can probably anticipate that giving will go down. Many of our donors own or work in businesses that have been closed temporarily or have been impacted by the economic issues in other ways. Retirees who depend on their 401K or IRA investments are struggling to know how long this market downturn may last and how they can make their income stretch further. Please know that I understand those pressures and concerns. Our investments and endowments are taking the same kind of “hit” that individual accounts are. We need to pray for each other during these times.
Many of you are probably needing to provide care for children during the day who otherwise would be in school. Many of you may be working from home and finding your routines interrupted. I would encourage you to take this time to instill in yourself and in your family that this is an opportunity to focus on what is really important—and that is our faith in our Lord Jesus. It is also a great time to share with your children, friends and neighbors the confidence and assurance we have because of Him who is on the throne and who loves us so very much.
You can probably imagine that during these times, the needs of our children and families actually increase. Additional counseling is needed to ease the reactions to the trauma and employees who have been able to work on other things during school hours now provide care for the children and teens in the home. These, and other needs, continue to multiply. If you are in a position to help, please know that our ministries to children, youth and families need your support.
Missouri Baptist Children’s Home is a Christian faith-based agency that believes in a powerful God who can provide protection, peace and assurance during turbulent times such as these. We trust that He will provide us with the wisdom, ability and resources to continue to minister to the children, youth and families who so desperately need His love.