Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) and Christian Adoption Services (CAS) have agreed to partner together to offer comprehensive foster care and adoption services to families throughout the state.
Kevin Qualls, left, President for CAS, greets Michael C. Blackwell, President/CEO of BCH of North Carolina.
“This is an exciting day for us and the children and families we serve,” says BCH president/ CEO Michael C. Blackwell. “CAS is doing phenomenal work to place children with families standing ready to embrace them. BCH brings to the partnership a wealth of resources through our family foster care program as well as our cottage home care for children.
“Without question, the clear winner of this alliance between BCH and CAS is the children and families of North Carolina.”
BCH’s family foster care program, where the nonprofit works to train and license couples, is rapidly expanding throughout North Carolina. CAS, who has permanently placed more than 2,000 children with families, is able to facilitate the adoption process.
“Coming together with BCH in the areas of adoption and foster care means more boys and girls, who come from desperate circumstances, will receive the caring homes they deserve,” says Kevin Qualls, CAS President.
The two nonprofits made their partnership official on Monday, July 15 at a special celebration at BCH’s Mills Home campus in Thomasville. Staff and board members from both organizations were in attendance as respective leadership signed the Memorandum of Understanding.
David Powell, Pastor at Salem Baptist Church in Dobson and BCH trustee, opened the celebration in prayer. He and his wife, Lindsey, are foster parents.
Left to Right: Michael C. Blackwell, President/CEO of BCH of North Carolina; Keith Henry, Chief Operating Officer for BCH; Jerry Jordan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for BCH; Joyce Ford, President of the Board of Directors for CAS; Laura Nichols-Virgilio, Executive Director for CAS; Kevin Qualls, President for CAS.
“God, may we be moved and compelled to do whatever it takes,” Powell prayed. “Bless these efforts, dear God, for Your glory and for the good of those who need a home, and need a family.”
Qualls addressed the group and talked about his North Carolina Baptist roots. He served for 22 years in church ministry, in both North and South Carolina. He was the Next Generations Pastor at First Baptist Church in Charlotte for four years before joining CAS in March 2016.
“As CAS began pursuing the idea of providing foster services, we kept running into roadblocks. We shelved the idea about a year ago,” Qualls shared. “I said, ‘Lord, we’re going to trust You and Your divine time.’”
Because of his Baptist connections, Qualls was aware of Baptist Children’s Homes. He, Blackwell and Keith Henry, BCH Chief Operating Officer, connected with one another. That connection led to BCH referring families, who were interested in adoption, to CAS. The same held true when CAS received calls from families interested in fostering; they were referred to BCH.
“A wonderful relationship had begun,” Qualls said.
After numerous meetings and times of prayer between Qualls and Henry, it became clear that the time was right for forming an official partnership.
“As we move forward, BCH and CAS are walking together hand in hand in service of our Lord and to children and families,” Henry shared. “Up to now, each of us has provided a valuable piece of the continuum of care along a pathway filled with children looking for families and families looking for children.
Today, those paths are seamlessly connected working closely to eliminate the obstacles and to smooth that path for these children and families.”
The collaboration between the two nonprofits goes beyond supporting North Carolina children and families. Their efforts are also about providing quality placement options to the state’s child welfare system that is removing children from families at an alarming rate. In North Carolina, there are now 3,000 more children in foster care than in 2011.
“There are numerous reasons why the numbers of children being removed are rising. A major factor is parental substance abuse which involves the growing opioid crisis across our state and nation,” Henry explained. “These addictions by parents and guardians often result in the abuse and neglect of their children. For the children’s safety, the state is forced to take custody.”
Left to Right: Michael C. Blackwell, President/CEO of BCH of North Carolina; Keith Henry, Chief Operating Officer for BCH; Jerry Jordan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for BCH; and Joyce Ford, President of the Board of Directors for CAS signed the Memorandum of Understanding at BCH’s Mills Home campus in Thomasville July 15.
In 2018 alone, 16,796 children were removed from their homes by NC Departments of Social Services. As a result, there are too many children in the system and not enough quality placement options.
“The state’s child welfare system is doing the best it can, but its resources are stretched too thin,” Qualls shared. “Identifying not only new options, but the best options, will help the state and ultimately benefit the children long term.
“This is why both CAS and BCH see our partnership as imperative and an integral part of providing that solution.”
Together, BCH and CAS have almost 175 years of experience in providing compassionate services to bring help and hope to vulnerable children. BCH was established in 1885 and oversees a variety of ministries for children, families and adults throughout North Carolina as well as orphans in Guatemala. The nonprofit’s administrative offices are located in Thomasville at its oldest campus. CAS is headquartered in Matthews and has assisted in the adoption process for thousands of children since 1979.
“This partnership is about God’s timing,” Blackwell said. “That means, when the door opens we walk through it. God is in this. It is, without a doubt, His timing, and we celebrate the lives that will be indelibly changed through the partnership, and friendship that has been forged between Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina and Christian Adoption Services.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Blake Ragsdale is the director of communications at Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina.)