Cultivating Families

Helping Foster and Adoptive Families Thrive

Missouri City, TX   |  CultivatingFamilies.org

Mission

The mission of Cultivating Families is to inspire and equip faith based communities to engage in activities that help foster and adopted children and the families that take them into their homes. The problem we are trying to address is that 1500 children in the greater Houston area need forever homes (or forever relationships).

Ruling year info

2017

Founder and CEO

Rev Amy Bezecny

Program Coordinator

Sarah Haider

Main address

3900 Lexington Blvd Suite 210

Missouri City, TX 77459 USA

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EIN

81-4363348

NTEE code info

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (X01)

Foster Care (P32)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

1500 foster children in the greater Houston area are at risk to navigate life on their own, without lifelong families and relationships – and there are over 4000 communities of faith in this same area. While the area’s rich and diverse communities of faith are uniquely positioned to make a positive difference in the lives of these foster children, these communities of faith are often unaware of the needs of children from foster care, feel overwhelmed by the needs or, do not know how to help. Without support from faith communities, foster and adoptive families face the risk of isolation that often leads to failed placements. Without the involvement of communities of faith more families are either unaware of the need for more foster and adoptive parents or they are afraid of being overwhelmed and isolated if they foster or adopt. Children from foster care, not adopted by the age of eighteen, “emancipate,” and are often at risk of academic difficulties, increased school dropout rates, inc

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Adoption and Foster Care Awareness Events

Our Awareness Events are designed for anyone with an interest in learning more about Adoption or Foster Care.

We take an informative, myth-busting look at what foster care is, and untangle the many types of adoption as well as helpful language and terminology to use when interacting within the world of foster and adoption.

Cultivating Families brings in local experts to share their perspective on what is involved in adopting or providing foster care in Greater Houston, and what can be done to help.

Population(s) Served

The Adoption/Foster Care Decisions Course is for families exploring foster care or adoption.

The three-week course is led by experts who have walked that road themselves. Participants are equipped to make the best decision for their family - they learn about the costs associated with different options.

Population(s) Served

Supportive Care Groups are for foster parents, adoptive parents, and relatives as parents (kinship parents).

Some people adopt a child to become a family, others foster out of a calling to be with children who need care until they return home or find a new home, and some choose to raise a loved one's child.

No amount of training can fully cover what adoptive, foster, and kinship parents will experience once a child is in their home and the potential for emotional, intellectual, and physical stress can become very high.

Research has shown that informal and formal social support systems and groups have a beneficial influence on stress outcomes for participants.

Population(s) Served

Adoption and foster care activities provide faith-based congregations with incredible opportunities to offer real-life bridges to their communities. Awareness Events, Adoption and Foster Care Decisions Courses, and ongoing Support Groups open doors to foster and adoptive families that may not be a part of a faith-family.
It may seem daunting to a busy congregation to offer these activities. A great first step is to engage in “Learn and Serve” projects such as: First Night Kits,Comfort Cases, and Building Beds for foster children.

Population(s) Served

Faith-based congregations can participate by organizing groups of prayer volunteers. Whether part of a congregation or not, individuals can participate by becoming a prayer volunteer. Students and Adults can participate in the basic prayer initiative and we have future plans to develop a version for homebound elderly persons and a children’s prayer bead activity.
What: As another means of raising awareness, Cultivating Families has partnered with Child Protective Services in DFPS Region 6a and 6b (the Greater Houston area) and organized a prayer initiative customized to the 5500 children currently removed from their homes. Our prayer initiative offers a guide for each prayer volunteer to pray for ten children in state care. Praying for each child individually, identified by gender and age, we believe that we can pray for a distinct expression of their needs. It also expressly provides an opportunity and encouragement for the prayer volunteer to align their heart with God’s word, mindfully setting aside a part of their day to focus on these children in the care of the state.

Cultivating Families has taken great care to both protect the privacy of the children in state care and provide enough details (age and gender) for the prayer volunteer to feel a sense of connection with the child while praying. Local congregations and other organizations help promote the Prayer Initiative, and assist the volunteers in registering through our website to become a prayer volunteer. Requiring registrations allows Cultivating Families to track the number of children covered in prayer, and the number of volunteers engaged. It also provides a way for us to occasionally reach out with encouragement and updates on the state of foster care in the Greater Houston Area. All of this serves to raise the awareness of those involved in the Prayer Initiative.

Population(s) Served

While not as in-depth as parent training, volunteers and child care workers also need to understand foster and adopted children’s background and current needs.
Our Trauma-Informed Volunteer and Child Care Worker Training offers basic information to help volunteers and child care workers understand the impact of foster and adopted children’s history, how their history affects their current behavior, and the importance of meeting their current needs. The training offers insights and skills that can be applied in classrooms, small group activities, and nurseries.

Population(s) Served

We seek out and research evidence-based parent training beneficial for parents of foster and adopted children and encourage congregations to offer these within their local community.
One such training currently recommended is Empowered to Connect (ETC) Parent Training, an interactive learning experience designed specifically for adoptive and foster parents. The ETC Parent Training was developed by Michael & Amy Monroe and relies heavily on the Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) (https://child.tcu.edu/about-us/tbri/) model developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and her colleagues at the TCU Institute of Child Development.
Cultivating Families has trained ETC leaders, equipped and practiced in presenting both the “Prepare Course:” six sessions designed to provide useful insights and a solid foundation for those who have not yet adopted or begun fostering; and the nine session “Connect Course” designed for parents who have already have foster or adopted children in their home. To date, the training has been well received by Christians and non-Christians alike.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our overarching goal is that no child in the greater Houston area is left to navigate life alone. Interim goals are as follows:
• Faith communities become aware of the needs of foster and adopted children and their families.
• Faith communities do not feel overwhelmed by the needs of foster and adopted children and their families.
• Support from faith communities leads to fewer foster and adoptive families face the risk of isolation.
• Support from faith communities leads to more successful placements.
• Support from faith communities leads to more families encouraged to become foster and adoptive parents.
• Congregants, or faith community members, find purpose and belonging.
Day in and day out, our goal is to offer resources and support to enable communities of faith to strengthen their connections with their own members and their local community. We continually strive to provide what congregations need to BE the support and education hub for families.

Faith-based congregations, plentiful and widespread, are the ideal spots to offer much-needed guidance, support, and educational courses, so they can nurture the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of children and families from the foster care system. If a congregation wants to help but does not believe it will be successful in connecting children with families, there are many other projects they can choose from to help. Our strategy is to equip communities of faith by teaching them to launch and sustain courses and groups, offer Learn and Serve Projects, and small or large Awareness Events.

Courses for families who are either considering or have already become foster or adoptive parents include our Adoption and Foster Care Decisions Course, Supportive Care Groups, Parent Training. We also offer workshops for Trauma-Informed Care training for faith community childcare workers and children’s activity volunteers. The Learn and Serve Projects serve as an introduction to the foster care and adoption community while helping provide children with their basic needs. Each volunteer project is a great way to engage members in meaningful activity and encourage bonding while making a positive difference for vulnerable children. Learn and Serve Projects currently include First Night Kits, First Night Backpacks, Building Beds for children in foster care, sewing weighted blankets and a Prayer Initiative.

We ask that interested faith-based congregations commit to the following:
• Collaborate with Cultivating Families to determine the best adoption/foster care activity for their congregations and the local community.
• Offer or launch and sustain a minimum of one of these activities per year with training and guidance from Cultivating Families
• Participate in our greater Houston are Prayer Initiative
• Encourage congregation staff and volunteer participation in Trauma-Informed Care Training so that they are better equipped to welcome and nurture vulnerable children and families.
• Complete and submit our activity participation and outcome evaluation reports

Our Founder and CEO has over 10 years of experience actively and successfully engaging communities of faith to care for foster and adopted children and their families.
Our Board of Directors and Advisory Council are diverse in age, ethnicity, gender, and faith, with a solid commitment to our mission and vision.
Our Advisory Council members are key stakeholders in the adoption and foster care community.
We have support from multiple communities of faith, including in-kind office space.
We developed a curriculum that fulfills a previously unmet need of educating people on the decision to foster, adopt, or help vulnerable children in other ways.

We have engaged congregations in Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faith communities. We are a neutral stakeholder that brings everyone together including The Department of Family and Protective Services, faith leaders, child-placing agencies, and qualified therapists to inform our strategies and decisions.

In 2019 we equipped 12 communities of faith to engage 1871 volunteers to serve 1591 children and families. 4 children were placed in homes of group or course participants. 58 Foster/adoptive parents were supported through care groups and parenting classes. 2 parents entered the foster care process.

Next:
We are working to develop a funding strategy that capitalizes on our successful history of funding from major foundations and increases corporate support in addition to our current level of individual donations.
We are seeking to develop a staff that represents multi-faiths and has a variety of skill sets

Financials

Cultivating Families
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Cultivating Families

Board of directors
as of 11/6/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Rev Amy Bezecny

Cultivating Families

Term: 2016 - 2018


Board co-chair

Sarah Haider

New Star Kafala

Term: 2016 - 2018

Samantha Inocencio

Southern Tube, LLC

Pamela Hughes

Retired

Justin Flint

Attorney

Roger Vazquez

Houston Center for Christian Counseling

Robbyn Lessig

Lessig Consulting

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/06/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Asian American/Pacific Islanders/Asian
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability