‘One Church, One Child’ pursues partnerships
Faith-based families wanted to foster, adopt
YOUNGSTOWN — Mahoning County Children Services is launching a local version of a national program called “One Church, One Child.”
Its mission is to help the agency recruit more foster and adoptive families within the faith-based community.
Mahoning County Children Services, like other Ohio public children services agencies, is facing its share of placement challenges.
There is a shortage of licensed foster homes available in Mahoning County and a great need to identify more adoptive families to provide permanent homes for children in the agency’s permanent custody, according to the agency.
More than 300 children are in foster care through Mahoning County Children Services. There are 51 children in the agency’s permanent custody. Of the 51 children, 34 have permanency plans in place (a child has been matched with an adoptive family.)
The agency said it continues to seek adoptive families for 17 children / youth who have no permanent plan in place.
” With the support of our local faith communities, we believe we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of our children, providing them with stable and caring environments,” Richard Tvaroch, executive director, said.
The One Church, One Child concept was created by Rev. George Clements of Chicago in the 1980s. Clements, a black Roman-Catholic priest, became famous for being the first United States priest to adopt a child legally.
Clements’ OCOC program is based on his belief that if every congregation identifies one family who fosters or adopts one child, more placement options would be available when a child enters foster care and fewer or no children waiting in foster care for a permanent adoptive family.
A 1987 American television movie, “The Father Clements Story,” was made about his life. The movie starred actors Lou Gossett, Jr., Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Carroll O’Connor.
“We truly need the faith community’s help to recruit more families who can foster or adopt children in our custody and to also to serve as a support and resource to families,” said Theresa Pancoe, children services’ resource department program administrator. She oversees the agency’s foster, adoption and kinship units.
The agency recently contracted with Kathy Hammond to lead the OCOC program. Hammond is a community leader and child advocate.
“In my 20-plus years working with the Youngstown City School District providing social programs for all ages, I’ve seen our children and the wonderful potential they have. For some children, just a home and a family could make all the difference,” Hammond said.
To learn more about the One Church One Child Program, or becoming a foster caregiver, contact Mahoning County Children Services at 330-941-8888.