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The CARE House is officially open

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Fewer children in state custody will be sleeping on the floor in state offices while being transitioned into foster care, now that The CARE House in Shelbyville is officially open.  

An open house was held Sunday to celebrate the transition center’s grand opening. Several guests toured the new home—one complete with children’s bedrooms graced with tiny teddy bears, coloring books and warm beds. It’s a home model that could perhaps feel like a mansion to some foster children. “These children and teens have nothing with them; they are frightened, lonely, hungry and confused,” said church pastor Eddie Reed. “Our purpose is to try to reduce some of that trauma.”  

Having family in social work, Reed gave an example recently how one state worker had to go in at 11 p.m. to sit in the office with some children, because a foster home had not been secured.  

He explained how for three days, social workers rotated shifts in the office in an effort to care for the same children.  

Reed said The Care House, which encompasses approximately 2,400 square feet, is being fashioned as a warm and friendly environment-one suitable for supervised visits and even trainings. His goal is to fill it with attentive volunteers, clean beds, good food and new clothes and toys.  

“The Lord has spoken to us . . . .,” said Reed. “Our vision and dream, we feel like, is that we want to reduce the trauma as much as possible . . . provide a home setting where they can watch TV, get showers, put on new clothes and play with new toys they can take with them when they leave.”  

The children may stay a few hours or several days, depending on whether a family accepts them into their home.  

While it is temporary, the pastor realizes how many children wait in the wings for homes and placement within the state department.  

While such a mission has been in his prayers for years, the local pastor said it was after reading an article in a Florida newspaper about an outreach facility that he knew it was time to plan here.  

He said early on he had a vision of what it would be like for a parent to sit in a warm house, rather than at the local McDonald’s, which is generally the state’s choice meeting place for families being supervised with their kids.  

I thought, “If mom wants to cook them a birthday cake; they would be able to enjoy two or three hours in a family setting, where there is no chaos happening.”  

The Living Stones congregation has donated a portion of its 20 acres for the facility, which is designed with an inviting front porch.  

The home was built as a one story ranch style dwelling similar in appearance to the current church facade.  

Several of the members were on hand Sunday, putting out a buffet of appetizers for guests touring the new respite foster home.  

Director Jeanne Edwards notes it’s an exciting time for all involved in The CARE House but especially for Living Stones Church. She mentions there will always be an ongoing list for the house, which is a 501(c) (3). All donations are tax deductible.  

Items  Edwards notes which will be needed at the foster respite home are: pantry items such as canned pastas, cereal and crackers but also school supplies, toys and clothing. Pajamas and underwear will be really needed as many children are taken from their homes in the middle of the night. Edwards note that as always, the one-size-fits-all includes cash donations.  

When the children sit on the front porch of The CARE House, they’ll see a serene historic farm down the road. It’s quite—a peaceful respite for some children coming out of very difficult homes.  

The home is designed to look like a home belonging to a typical Shelbyville family—complete with bathrooms, a large laundry room and spacious kitchen.  

While the state foster care program will operate as usual within The Care House, the pastor stated it is not government-funded.  

“What if Mama was able to fix a small dinner for her kids; she’s been put out because of Meth? What if she’s able to get her head together and one or two can help her have a dinner . . . spend time with her kids for three or four hours. They can have a birthday party . . . pop popcorn and watch movies.”  

DCS supervisors will be in the home, observing and standing by to deal with any potential family issues, he said.  

The original premise of the respite home was to provide a comforting atmosphere for family visitation, unlike that of McDonalds, where state workers generally conduct supervised family meetings.  

Overseeing the care facility for Living Stones will be Denise Lindsey, executive director and creator of The Center for Family Development, a care placing agency. 

With 40 years of social work experience, Lindsey honestly discussed the foster care program’s flawed past.  

“All those years, seeing what we did to children and their families, because we had no other choice; we’ve grown. We now know so much now about trauma . . . how hard it is for parents to be reunified in this system. This is not to down grade or speak bad of DCS. I worked there for years. I know how hard those folks work. DCS gets a really bad rap; they shouldn’t. Sure, they have to do hard things. But they do those things because they’re mandated by law to go and investigate abuse.”  

Lindsey said while “The Care House” will be similar to the Isaiah 117 houses in Tennessee, she advised the one envisioned by Living Stones brings a fresh perspective. She described the trauma children experience while waiting foster care placement is “horrific.”  

“When you’ve got a child sitting in a cubicle overnight, what does that say to a child?” Lindsey said. “You remove them out of a bad situation, then you put them right back into a very traumatic experience.”  

Lindsey said her perspective is The Care House will not simply exist as a Band-Aid, but more as a nurturing vessel. She also believes the outreach project is a good coordination effort between DCS and The Center for Family Development, another one of her visions which is still in operation here after 25 years. Supporting Lindsey at “The Care House,” will be church liaison Jeanne Edwards, who previously served as children’s director and worked with The Center for Family Development.  

After seeing videos of the Isaiah 117 program, Edwards said she too discussed the idea with Pastor Reed. He added it will only be through teamwork that “The Care House” will thrive in this community.  

While everyone “loves children,” he said volunteers will certainly need to be called to this type of mission.  

“I don’t want it to be classified as Living Stones, or Denise’s group,” said the pastor. “I want it to be classified as the community of Bedford County, coming together, trying to work to solve a problem. We’ve got 20 acres here; we can put other facilities here, if we can figure out how to operate . . . people commit to them. The opportunities are endless. The key problem is people . . . being able to stick to what God’s telling them to do. This is a call upon Living Stones Church, a call upon Denise’s heart . . . Jeanne’s heart. We’re going to do everything we can to accomplish this; we hope it grows and we have to build another one.” 

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