WHAT IS CROSSROADS NOLA?
Crossroads NOLA is a faith-based 501-c3 nonprofit organization committed to making a difference in the lives of children in foster care in New Orleans. Crossroads NOLA was previously known as Baptist Crossroads and focused on the issue of affordable housing. As a major housing initiative came to completion, issues within the foster care system in New Orleans began to come to light. Under new leadership, Baptist Crossroads evaluated these issues, developed a strategy to address them, and underwent a name change to reflect its new approach which relies heavily on a city-wide church network.
SO WHAT IS THIS BIG PROBLEM WITH FOSTER CARE?
Well, there are many. We believe the state is doing the best job they can, but a lack of funding creates situations that are not best for children. Since we believe God has given the church the job of caring for vulnerable children, we’re eager to step in and help. Here are a few specific examples of issues we see, that we believe we can do something about:
Recently, state budget cuts have decreased the number of social workers available to handle Foster Care cases in Louisiana. Meanwhile the number of statewide cases continues to grow, resulting in a significant increase in caseload to the social workers that have been retained.
Instead of spending time recruiting and supporting foster families, social workers in our region are buried under a mountain of paper work.
As a result, many loving, caring adults are not made aware of the need for foster families in our city. Potential families that do become aware are stuck in the developing bottleneck of state certification and approval.
At the same time, social workers struggle to find placements for kids entering state custody.
Without an adequate number of families available for placement, children lack stability as they are shuffled from one home to another, often leaving behind their neighborhoods, schools, friends, and even siblings.
Teens are especially hard to place and are placed in group homes where many will age out of the state’s care with no family connection or support.
WHAT IS CROSSROADS NOLA TRYING TO DO?
Crossroads NOLA believes the answer to many of these issues lies within the Church. God is already at work, calling individuals and couples in churches throughout the city to become foster parents.
Through the cooperative effort of churches…
We can bring a social worker to New Orleans to help recruit, certify, and support families in our churches called to foster and adopt local children. A social worker would allow us to increase the number of suitable foster parents available to children in our city by:
- Guiding potential foster parents through the certification process
- Increasing the level of support provided to each foster family in order to reduce burnout
We can (serve) minister to vulnerable children by providing funding and recruiting volunteers to care for kids from the moment they enter state custody until they are placed in a foster home at Kids’ Place – a kid-friendly environment within the NOLA DCFS offices designed to provide comfort and security through:
- Trained and qualified volunteers to provide care and supervision
- Age appropriate toys and activities
- Supplies needed to meet immediate needs of children in crisis (toiletries, food, diapers)
We can support society’s most at-risk young adults, those aging out of foster care, by providing:
- Extra support and case management
- Family connection through the use of adult mentors
- Independent, subsidized college-style housing
- Life-skills training
- opportunities for workplace experience
- opportunities for spiritual development through weekly Bible study
HOW IS CROSSROADS NOLA FUNDED?
Grants – from private foundations
Charitable Giving – from individuals and corporations
We are exploring some commercial revenue options like a Thrift Store and food truck
WHO RUNS CROSSROADS NOLA?
Anna Palmer serves as the Director of Crossroads. Anna earned an M.Div. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 2009 and serves on staff at First Baptist New Orleans giving direction to the church’s compassion ministries.
Tyler Sandifer assists in the strategy development of Crossroads’ Foster Care & Adoption Initiative for Crossroads. Tyler received his B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Georgia in 2009 and will complete his M.Div. from NOBTS in December of 2013.
Andrew Crosby serves as Crossroads’ Community Relations Coordinator. He facilitates a tutoring and coaching ministry in the Upper Ninth Ward and is working to develop a Thrift Store model that serves the community and gives sustainability to Crossroads’ Foster Care & Adoption Initiative. Andrew earned a Master of Pastoral Studies from Loyola University in 2009.
Crossroads Board Members: David Crosby, Fred Luter, Mike Flores, Courtney Flores, Steve Watts, Jack Hunter, Guy Williams, and Kim Carver