By: Deanna Rebro | Category: Special Interest | Issue: January 2010
Case managers Brandy Peoples and Amanda Howard provide support for children and foster families at The Bair Foundation, a Christian-based foster care ministry.
Every day, dozens of children in our community are abused or neglected, often in the so-called safety of their own homes. It is virtually impossible for most of us to imagine the emotional and physical pain these young people experience. These boys and girls desperately need the love and support of a family, but they find only anger and pain as they are removed from their homes and placed in DHS shelters.
The Bair Foundation, a Christian foster care ministry, makes every effort to help as many of these kids as possible. The mission of The Bair Foundation is to provide a safe, loving and nurturing home to children and teens who would otherwise find themselves frightened or alone in a shelter.
The Bair Foundation is a national organization based in rural Pennsylvania. Founders Bill and Marilyn Bair began taking troubled teens into their home in 1967. There was no organization in mind; they just wanted to help kids who needed guidance and support. Their humble efforts have evolved into a ministry that now has 32 offices in eight states.
The Tulsa office, which has been here for 13 years, is one of three in Oklahoma. The Bair Foundation is the only Christian-based foster care in the state. According to their belief in the Biblical principal of seedtime and harvest, a foster parent sows the seeds of faith, love and hope into the lives of the children and teens in their care. In time, those seeds, faithfully sown, may provide a harvest that will last a lifetime and beyond.
Unlike traditional foster care, prayer and spiritual beliefs may be included in individual treatment plans. Three separate programs are available to fill the needs of approximately 60 children, from birth to 18, in their system – emergency foster care, therapeutic foster care and contract foster care.
One young man wrote a letter to express his appreciation for the Christian foster care he had received 30 years earlier. Referring to his life as a troubled 15-year-old, he writes: “It was the time in my life that gave me a second chance at where I was going. I feel I am a better person today because of my foster family.”
There are many more just like him who need a guiding light, but don’t yet have one. According to case managers Amanda Howard and Brandy Peoples, staggering numbers of children and teens have been removed from their homes where methamphetamine was produced or sold.
The Bair Foundation recognizes that to become a foster parent is to answer a calling to a very special mission field. Not everyone is equipped to handle the day-to-day challenges, but those who are receive satisfaction like no other.
Before they begin their task, each foster family must complete a comprehensive regimen of training and certification. A number of criminal background checks, reference checks, face-to-face interviews and home visits protect the children and teens in care, and help to make the best possible placement decisions. Placements are made by comparing the needs of the child with the strengths and skills of the foster home.
As a new outreach effort, The Bair Foundation has established an outpatient school-based program at Edison Middle School. Many times students have difficulty dealing with emotions and issues involving family loss, peer problems or adjusting to a new school. A counselor is on site for individual counseling or for self-esteem groups. Plans are under way to work with other schools in the community.
The nonprofit organization could help even more children and teens in need with additional foster families, cash donations or in-kind donations such as restaurant gift certificates, food discounts, automotive service discounts, movie passes and stuffed animals for the frightened children. If you have the heart to serve, whether by fostering or providing a donation, contact The Bair Foundation at (918) 298-5059.
Deanna Rebro has worked in the publishing industry 30+ years, including eight years writing for Value News. She has also worked in real estate for the past six years. Deanna graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio with a B.A. in Journalism. Outside of work, she serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Pet Adoption League. “Every story I write is a learning experience,” she said.