Open Home Foundation is a Christian social service which provides home based social work and foster care for families who are struggling to provide safe care for their children. Our vision is that ‘every child in NZ will receive a depth of care that will bless them for the rest of their life’ – physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The organisation was established in 1977 by Ewen and Gillian Laurenson. Following their difficult experience in running a Social Welfare family home, they began to develop a network of Christian Foster families as an alternative for children and young people placed in Department of Social Welfare care.
The work began in the Laurenson's Johnsonville home with a small group of supporters and within a short period of time, it began to develop in other parts of New Zealand. In 1986, because of rapid growth, Open Home Foundation became a national organisation and both Ewen and Gillian were awarded the Queen's Service Medal for their service to Foster Care in New Zealand in 1995.
Families may need to be supported to safely care for their children for a number of reasons. Stress, mental health issues, domestic violence, drug & alcohol issues, homelessness, abuse & neglect and disability are just a few of the factors which can contribute to the breakdown of a family’s ability to provide adequate safe care for their children. In many instances the family simply needs to be supported to make the changes necessary in order to safely care for their children. Even with a high level of support however, there are times when it becomes necessary for children and young people to leave the care of their parents. Wherever possible this care is undertaken by kin. Where this is not possible foster care can be provided for a short time as respite or on a longer term or permanent basis if necessary.
Open Home Foundation believes that families, and preferably a child or young person’s own family or whanau, are the best place for a young person to grow. We therefore make every effort to place a child requiring foster care with a member of their own extended family before exploring any other options.
Since the earthquakes we have seen a significant rise (17%) in the numbers of children being referred for care and protection (Ministry of Social Development). Families have been stressed in so many different ways and this has been made all the more difficult by a lack of support as friends and relatives have moved away and communities have changed. With this increase in referrals there is now also an urgent need for additional support. We require more foster parents, prayer support, and financial sponsorship to provide for the needs of the children (swimming lessons, music tuition, furniture and holiday camps) as well as financial assistance to provide the resources needed to serve the community in this way (additional social workers, cost of running cars and transport for children).
We are very keen to share our story with the wider community and invite people in Canterbury to consider partnering with us in this local mission work by providing prayer support, sponsorship and by stepping up to provide foster care for a few days to give long term carers a break or on a longer term basis. We provide on-going training, 24 hour support and financial reimbursement to all our foster carers. They are the heart of our organisation.
Our vision is that ‘every child in NZ will receive a depth of care that will bless them for the rest of their life’ and our goal is to have enough foster parents to be able to say ‘yes’ to every referral. We are very keen to share our story and to partner with the community across wider Canterbury. Our new website provides some wonderful information about the work we do including interviews with foster parents and online sponsorship details. www.ohf.org.nz If you are interested in fostering or would like a presentation for your organisation, community group, congregation or mission leadership team please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or
PH 03 366 5977 We’d be delighted to partner with you!
Thanks to Nicole Garner for sending this post in