Circle of Care gets moving on expansion
Circle of Care President Don Batson, left, and Tasha Atcity, church relations coordinator for the organization.
OKLAHOMA CITY — This centennial year for the Oklahoma United Methodist Circle of Care is momentous in more ways than one.
Two United Methodist churches already have stepped forward to partner with Circle of Care on a sibling foster care initiative, Legacy of Care, that launched this year.
- Alva-First UMC has secured land and matching funds to build a home in that community for siblings who are in the state’s care. Once the house is built, the church will wrap its Christian love around the foster family that will reside there, providing a strong support network for sustainable fostering.
- Woodward-First UMC has donated land adjacent to the church for two such homes and an activity center. Already providing unparalleled support to Circle of Care’s regional family specialist stationed in Woodward, First UMC looks forward to more impactful discipleship opportunities serving foster children in western Oklahoma.
Additional plans include one new home and an activity center on Circle of Care’s Holsinger Home property in Enid, with more potential sites for expansion identified in Elk City, Oklahoma City, Shawnee, and Coweta.
All these are part of a bold campaign by the 100-year-old organization to expand services and meet an enormous need for placement options for youngsters in the state’s foster care system who are brothers and sisters.
Legacy of Care will develop custom housing in which large sibling groups — three or more children — can remain together.
In Oklahoma, a sibling group of three foster children has only a 65 percent chance of being placed together, according to Circle of Care officials. That option falls to 45 percent for a group of four, and down to 20 percent for groups of five.
Yet foster youths describe the experience of being placed in homes separate from brothers or sisters as extra punishment, a separate loss, and another pain that is not needed.
“Connected at the heart, yet living apart. This happens to siblings in foster care every day, and we cannot let it continue,” said Don Batson, Circle of Care’s president for over 12 years.
The Legacy of Care initiative will build eight large homes, to help keep together more brothers and sisters. The capital drive had raised $2.1 million of the $5 million goal by late October.
Rapid acceleration in the project is causing Batson to shift his plans, too.
The president had expected to retire at age 66, admitting “a deep desire on the part of my wife and I to be part of our children and grandchildren’s lives in Tennessee.” He had planned a date “a little over one year from now.”
Instead, he will move up his retirement, to transition into providing key leadership for the Legacy of Care campaign and home construction.
The Circle of Care’s Board of Directors is working with a national executive search firm, Moran and Company, to select a successor president and CEO by February 2018.
A representative of the search firm recently spent two days in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, meeting with staff, the Board of Directors, and key ministry partners. The process has begun for identifying the ideal candidate to boldly lead the Circle of Care into its next century of providing help, healing, and hope to disadvantaged children, youths, and families in Oklahoma.