Over 400,000 children are in the U.S. foster care system, and close to 100,000 are in need of adoption. These children face high risks of remaining in the cycle of dependency — including poverty, incarceration, homelessness, violence, and high drop-out rates.
Founded in 1996 by Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., Harvest of Hope Family Services, is leveraging effective solutions for the foster care crisis facing the country. Harvest of Hope’s unique model focuses on training churches and communities to provide qualified, long-term loving foster family homes, supporting them with training and care, and facilitating successful aging out of those homes. By promoting personal growth, skill development, intellectual competence, and financial stability, they focus on permanence in the foster home that provides children with the stability needed for success. Additionally, they manage resources for the state of New Jersey to provide long-term solutions for the timely placement of displaced children.
At any given time, over 400,000 children reside in foster care in the United States, and close to 100,000 are eligible for adoption. One out of 10 children in foster care has been in the system for at least seven years — and the longer they spend in the system, the more placements and instability they are likely to experience. Without stability and a nurturing environment, these children face high risks of remaining in the cycle of dependency. Harvest of Hope exists to give these children the best chance of a stable, caring childhood.
In 1996, Dr. DeForest “Buster” Soaries Jr., the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey, incorporated foster care into his church’s ministry programs in response to the state’s crisis. Harvest of Hope was born and has since become the largest, most effective entity in the state dealing with the shortage of black foster care homes and retention of those homes in the system. To date, Harvest of Hope has successfully placed over 1,400 children in loving homes, with nearly 300 of these children being adopted, and has achieved an 85 percent retention rate of foster parents participating in their network.
Harvest of Hope Family Services, Inc. offers a transformative approach to foster care and a valuable opportunity to revolutionize the way states handle foster care — a solution that stands in stark contrast to failed government programs. Through organizational support, Stand Together plans to help Harvest of Hope scale their New Jersey model nationwide, beginning with a new initiative in the state of Arizona. With better care, support, and permanency, young individuals will have far greater chances to achieve long-term success and self-sufficiency for a brighter future.