A Christian group influences Russian foster care

By April 14, 2006

Russia (MNN) — While it appears Russia may be trying to curb religious freedom in that nation, Christians may play a significant part in forming the country’s foster care program.

Buckner Orphan Care International held its 4th annual conference on children’s welfare issues in Moscow. Buckner’s Amy Norton says their topic this year was foster care. “Our goal, really, was to get foster care pushed through the Duma, for them to make national legislation for foster care so that foster care could be spread across Russia.”

Norton says this is a huge need in Russia right now. “With over 700,000 children in orphanages here, there’s a huge problem with children being institutionalized and our goal is to get children into a loving family so they can really develop and be loved and cared for.”

Many national agencies participated in the conference, including: the ministry of education, the ministry of labor and health, and the head of juvenile justice and street children.

At the end of the conference, a resolution was drafted which will be proposed to the Duma. In the meantime, says Norton, “We will continue to have a working group of officials and people who discuss and deal with foster care, continuing to push the resolution through the Duma for them to pass federal legislation that would provide foster families for children here in Russia.”

If it makes it through the legislature, Norton says evangelical churches must be a part of the program. “We really feel like the only people who are called to help them have a heart for these children are people who belong to the churches, who also are called to help them because it’s really something that we as a church are asked to do is care for the fatherless.”

In doing so, children will be able to hear the Gospel, perhaps for the first time. The next step will be recruiting. “Our goal is really to do that within this next to work with partner ministries that already work with churches all over Russia and be able to educate them and discuss foster care with them.”

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