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Stepping up

Sunrise takes training online to meet the needs of families


The coronavirus has forced many businesses and organizations to discover new methods for providing goods and services. Sunrise Children's Services is no exception as it is now making much of its foster care training available online.

The founders of the ministry in 1869 would never have imagined the reach and work of Sunrise today as the agency plays a key role in caring for Kentucky's families and children. Around 1,000 children receive care from the organization.

"We have been told to be prepared to step up," said Dale Suttles, president of Sunrise, "and many families will be needed to step up." Suttles hopes the online training will allow many Kentucky Baptist families to answer God's call to become foster parents.

"Sunrise is putting foster training online so couples can train while at home and be ready to accept children over the summer and fall."

Stacie McLaughlin, Sunrise marketing director, believes making the training available online will be helpful to potential foster families. "Families need user-friendly access from their homes, especially during this pandemic. But even going forward, families are busy, so having access from home to Sunrise trainings is beneficial."

The trainings can be found at Sunrise.org/onlinefostercare.

In addition to foster care training, Sunrise has also released a number of trainings to help pastors and church leaders care for children who are in foster care or families who foster children.

"With indicators showing that abuse will be on the rise and schools being closed for the summer, it is imperative that other social leaders recognize the signs and help prevent abuse," Mc-Laughlin said.

One of the videos features training on caring for children who've endured trauma. The Trauma-Informed Care and the Church videos provide insights on how trauma relates to the gospel, how trauma affects behavior and identifying the possible behavioral indicators of child abuse.

Another video helps churches care for people who are or have been suicidal. According to Sunrise's website, the training takes a biblical approach in offering care for those who are suicidal. It specifically focuses on helping pastors understand the driving forces behind suicidal thoughts, working through taboo language of caring for people who are at-risk and providing care for families who have been affected by suicide.

Suttles believes the resources will be a great help to churches as they move forward after the coronavirus pandemic, "We are told by those in the know that as things open back up in Ken- tucky, there will be an enormous num- ber of children needing help because they have been in unsafe environments due to COVID-19."

He says continuing the work of the ministry has been a challenge during the time of isolation and quarantine. "Our staff (members) have been warriors throughout this crisis. Many have families of their own that they leave in quarantine to take care of Kentucky's orphans."

McLaughlin agreed, saying, "Our residential campuses have remained open and continue to care for kids 24/7.

Prevention and safety measures to protect children and staff have been a top priority."

Suttles says Sunrise hasn't furloughed or laid off any employees but is having to address a financial shortfall. "Donations are down considerably, and Sunrise is actively working to develop a plan to combat a lack of resources."

Brandon Porter is director of communica- tions for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

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