About Child Bridge
What does Child Bridge do?
Child Bridge finds and supports foster and adoptive families for Montana children in need.
Why is Child Bridge needed?
Child Bridge effectively utilizes a faith based model to provide homes and families for children in need. Child Bridge works to create awareness regarding the need for families to care for children. The system is complex...Child Bridge strives to bridge the gap between churches, communities and government to serve children and families in communicative, effective and efficient ways.
Are you an adoption or placement agency?
No. Child Bridge is neither an adoption nor a placement agency. Child Bridge is a ministry. Our partners such as the State of Montana, Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, Intermountain, Partnership for Children, Youth Homes, etc., are the agencies who do the actual placing of children in families. You can think of Child Bridge as a partner who walks alongside the parents during their foster/adoptive journey and serves as a bridge between the church community, government and other child welfare and mental health providers.
How are you funded?
Child Bridge is a faith based, non-profit (501c3) organization that operates via private donors, family foundations, grants and modest church support. Most of our donors are individuals and organizations who see value in our spiritually focused objective of “caring for the least of these.” To date, we have received no fee for services, nor any government funding.
Does Child Bridge charge families for your services and supports?
No. We do not want money to be a barrier for parents wanting to foster or adopt, or those who are in need of services and supports. We believe that the Body of Christ can provide the best child welfare system for kids in crisis and we are Biblically mandated to care for one another.
Do you find children for families?
We like to turn this notion upside down! Child Bridge operates from the vision that we find families for children. In our family recruiting model, we seek families who want a child to have a family...not families who want to have a child! There is a fundamental difference in this approach, as we work with families to help everyone understand this is a missional calling and focused on the needs of the children.
Do you convert children to Christianity?
Child evangelism is not the focus of Child Bridge. The goal of Child Bridge is to recruit and support families who can provide for every child...whether it be to offer a temporary safe haven, or life-long permanency. Child Bridge does not practice conversion, and maintains a diligent focus on provision and healthy, healing relationships for each child within a secure home.
Do I have to be a Christian to work with Child Bridge?
No. While Child Bridge is a faith-based organization, being a member of any faith is not one of our criteria. Our charter states that we “serve people of all faiths, and no faith.” If you have a heart for this calling and you feel a desire to help a child in need, Child Bridge will work diligently with you, and for you, to create safety and security for a child.
What resources are available through Child Bridge?
Child Bridge offers varying resources and supports to families, including access to our monthly Foster/Adoptive Parent Resource Groups. Additionally we are able to assist families throughout all stages of the foster/adoptive journey. We can offer suggestions and provide introductions to government partners, community services and child welfare and mental health providers. Churches who embrace Child Bridge as their Domestic Orphan Ministry are also able to provide supports to Child Bridge families. Prayer is provided to all families and children and Child Bridge offers a confidential prayer team in each city to pray for family and children needs as requested. Additionally, Child Bridge is able to provide some assistance to families in the form of items such as fire extinguishers, gift cards, dining out cards, and a limited ability to assist families with a modest stipend for basic needs when the family receives a placement. Caring for children from “hard places” often takes a team effort. Child Bridge believes strongly that families must avoid isolation which can lead to disruption. Supports and resources at all levels are critical...and we can guide you to those critical links.
Does Child Bridge provide training and licensing?
Child Bridge is not a licensing agency. However, Child Bridge works closely with training and licensing agencies and can offer training suggestions that will fit your needs and interests best. We can often provide you with dates, locations, etc., to connect you with the most appropriate training and licensing events. When you attend Child Bridge Resource Groups monthly, those groups are certified by the State of Montana for 2 hours of licensing renewal credits.
How can my church become involved with Child Bridge?
Call us and let’s talk! We can work with you at a variety of levels, including sharing the need for foster/adoptive families and hosting more in-depth informational sessions that share with your congregation more about the foster/adoptive journey. We can also assist you in creating a domestic orphan ministry focus in your church, which could include a lay volunteer being your Child Bridge ministry coordinator, and the opportunity to work with your church ministries to show how to utilize the natural infrastructure of your church to serve children in need.
I can’t foster or adopt...but how can I help families, kids or Child Bridge?
Child Bridge recognizes that Foster/Adoptive Parenting is a calling, and that not all families are called upon to provide a home for a child. So what can someone do who can’t foster or adopt? Wrap their arms around those who wrap their arms the children…the opportunities are limitless! Contact us for a list of ideas! And, please consider supporting Child Bridge financially. There are several ways you can help, and we’d welcome the opportunity to discuss financial needs and the efficiency of the ministry. Please consider becoming a monthly donor, making a one-time donation of any amount, make an annual donation, or create a legacy gift. If you wish to support us financially you can do so online at http://www.childbridgemontana.org/donate.html, or contact us by mail at Child Bridge P.O. Box 310 Bigfork, MT 59911
About Foster Care
What is foster care and who needs it?
Foster care is temporary out-of-home care for children. Most often, children in need of foster care have experienced some level of abuse or neglect. Children who cannot be adequately cared for in their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment need foster care.
What is a foster parent?
A loving person who provides love, care, shelter and basic necessities for a child who cannot be safely cared for in his/her own biological family.
How do children come into foster care?
Child Protective Service (CPS) investigates reports of suspected child abuse and neglect and removes children from threatening emergency situations.
Who decides that a child needs foster care?
A juvenile court judge decides to keep a child in foster care.
What is the goal of foster care?
The goal of foster care is to reunite a child with his/her biological parents/family whenever possible. A judge decides when, or if, it is safe to return a child to his/her biological parents.
Who can be a foster parent?
Foster parents can be young married couples, established families, empty-nesters, singles or grandparents from all ethnic and educational backgrounds. A family’s economic status will be reviewed as part of the qualification process, as you must be able to care for a child without it creating undue economic hardship.
What is required to become a foster parent?
Foster parents must show an adequate income to meet their needs, have appropriate living space that meets safety regulations, be fingerprinted for a criminal background clearance, and be in good physical and mental health with the stamina to care for children.
Is there a need for foster parents?
Yes! There is an ongoing shortage of available families in almost every area of the State of Montana. Some areas are in crisis, with few, to no families to care for children in need.
Do I need to be an American Citizen to offer foster care in my home?
Interested families must have a social Security Number.
What behaviors might I anticipate from a child removed from their family?
The common denominator for children in care is grief and loss, even when removed from very difficult and abusive circumstances. Additionally, children in care may also face emotional and psychological challenges as they try to adjust to new and often changeable environments. Children may exhibit signs of depression, aggression, fears, or withdrawal. It is important to be attuned to the child’s behaviors. Many services and supports are available to help you and the children.
What is a background check and will I be fingerprinted?
Background checks are meant to protect children who have been neglected and/or abused. Your wish to help them walk a healthy path is an honorable thing and their safety going forward must be ensured. As part of the foster process you’ll undergo two checks. The first check is to look at your Child Protective Service (CPS) history. The licensing worker looks at any Child Protection history about you in Montana. If you have lived in a state other than Montana, the worker will also look at your history in the states you used to live. Every adult in your household will also have his/her history checked. You will be told if the worker finds anything that shows you or any person in your home might be a risk to children. The second check is of your criminal history. You and any adult household member will be asked to give fingerprints and information on any criminal history so that the licensing worker can make sure that any children placed in your home will be safe. A motor vehicle check will also be done.
What is a Home Study?
A home study is time spent in your home with the licensing worker. The study asks a lot of personal questions, but helps make sure that foster children will be taken good care of in your home and also helps the licensing worker find out what type of child would do well in your home. The home study helps both you and the worker understand issues that may impact your parenting style and skills. It is an important tool and most valuable to you if you embrace it as an opportunity for self-reflection. The study is done in private and all information is kept confidential.
What is the purpose of taking my foster child to visitations with their biological parents?
The primary goal of short term foster care is family reunification, whenever possible. The main goal of a family visit is for the child and birth parent to ultimately be reunified. Visitation allows social workers a glimpse into the family dynamic and the opportunity to see what is working and what is not working as a family unit. The workers can then make plans for change. Visits also allow for the parent to see that their child is being taken care of and for the child to see that their mom or dad is okay as well.
What supports exist for Foster Parents?
A variety of supports are generally available. These range from Support/Resource Groups and sharing with others on the same journey, mentor programs, engaging with family and friends, utilizing clinical supports and interventions such as therapists, case managers, in home services, etc. Please check with your social worker to determine the best needs and supports for your child. It is strongly recommended that a support program be put together for a child in a thoughtful and proactive fashion...especially if the child has been in care previous to joining your family.
If I foster a child can I still adopt?
Yes! Once a child’s parental rights have been terminated by a judge, that child can be adopted. For children who are in permanent legal custody (PLC) of the State, when no reunification is possible, these children must be fostered for at least six months by the adopting family prior to adoption.
How long does it take for the adoption process to finalize?
DCFS or the agency will place the child with the prospective adopting parents and will supervise the placement during the 6-month waiting period. After the waiting period, the adopting parents will file a petition for adoption. At that time, DCFS or the agency will file its consent to the adoption. DCFS or the agency can recommend that the adoption be finalized sooner than 6 months if the child has been in the home for at least 6 months before the adoptive placement and the post-placement evaluation is completed during that time; if there are extenuating circumstances; or if the child has been a foster child with the adopting parents for at least one year before the adoptive placement.