About Crossroads NOLA
Housed in the First Baptist Church in New Orleans, Crossroads NOLA is a nonprofit organization that recruits, develops, and supports foster parents. 8,000 children are brought into Louisiana’s foster system each year, with 4,800 in a foster home at any given time, so it is important to have a well-trained foster community.
History of Crossroads
After Hurricane Katrina, the First Baptist Church in New Orleans founded Baptist Crossroads as a rebuilding organization and built more than 90 houses in New Orleans. In 2011, when Baptist Crossroads was wrapping up its construction efforts, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) looked to the faith-based community to help with the training and recruitment of foster families. DCFS was reducing their staff, and needed help recruiting families.
Crossroads NOLA’s Executive Director Anna Palmer, was tasked with developing a program to meet the needs of children in foster care. “Baptist Crossroads was wrapping up their rebuilding efforts, and we were looking for a new direction. When I heard about the need from DCFS, and we decided this is a void we could help fill.”
Crossroads NOLA’s Services: The Process
OLA uses the following process to recruit, develop, and support foster parents.
- Training and Certification For those compelled to become a state-certified foster parent, Crossroads NOLA’s social worker Dru Crenshaw can help. A board on the wall of Crossroads NOLA’s office is divided into four sections—“Orientation,” “MAPP Training,” “Home Visits,” and “Certified”—each containing notecards with families’ names on them. They are moved from one section of the board to the next, depicting which phase of the process they are in. The MAPP Training refers to the Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting, a training required by the state that teaches perspective parents about the foster system and what to expect from having a foster child. While the state gives the final certification, it does so based on Dru’s report and recommendation. Crossroads allows more families to become certified than if the state relied solely on their own employees.
- Ongoing Support Crossroads NOLA understands that being a foster parent can be challenging, and that welcoming a child into a home changes the family’s life. To make the transition smoother, Crossroads offers immediate and ongoing support for the foster parents and the child. First, they work with community partners to fill “three-day bags” to send each child into a home with clothes and other necessities. Director of Operations Mandi Wallis explained, “A child’s removal from his or her home may be sudden so the foster parents may have little or no notice that the child—or children, in the case of siblings—is coming. Our bags make the transition easier on the parents and children alike.”
To provide families with ongoing support, Crossroads manages a resource room where it accepts and sorts donations of children’s clothes and toys to give to the foster parents. Crossroads also organizes parent meetings and support groups and hosts events for the children during these meetings. Finally, Crossroads arranges occasional meals and babysitting services for its foster parents through its volunteers. Mandi Wallis explained, “When the foster parents’ focus is on offering the child a loving and supportive home, the child has a better experience and an easier time.”
To learn more about becoming or supporting foster parents, visit crossroadsnola.org. Or give them a call at 504-482-9135.← News and Insights