What is The Empty Frames Initiative?
03 May 2021
May is Foster Care Awareness Month and CCTI is dedicated this month to focus on the needs of Foster Kids. So, read on to find out more now.
Who We Are
Empty Frames Initiative is a non-profit whose mission is to empower orphaned and vulnerable youth as they transition out of state care. We look to do this by providing training in life skills, counseling, community, and access to the Gospel.
We began in 2015, initially looking to take our mission overseas to Eastern Europe, where the needs of aged-out youth felt most pressing. After we launched and began to share our vision with the American church, we were quickly told that the conditions in the United States were significant and that our proposed program was needed here. Like in Eastern Europe and around the world, youth who age out of foster care are more vulnerable to homelessness, substance abuse, human trafficking, and incarceration. After praying and seeking, we accepted this redirection from God and began to look at how we could launch a project in the United States that could be applied worldwide.
In the smallest example of our proposed work, we piloted our curriculum, “Storytelling Through Photography.” This program is an art therapy and literacy program, and our CCTI training was beneficial in the development of this program. Seven individuals who had previous experiences in the foster care system met with us in 2018 and tested the program. In working through the curriculum, we were able to demonstrate the relationships, healing, and support that can take place in an intentional community. The physical product of that project is our book, The Story of Foster Care.
When we began our organization, we started by researching and gathering as much information about the aging out process as we could. Then, we had opportunities to ask youth who had already experienced the transition from state care to independence what they believed would have made their transition easier. Through a partnership with SaySo (Strong Able Youth Speaking Out), we held a round table discussion that focused on the biggest challenges facing youth when they leave the foster care system. There were several considerations, but the one unanimous answer was that young adults need to be equipped to understand safe relationships and healthy communication skills. The ability to communicate and to work through conflict impacts one’s potential to maintain a job, utilize available resources, and engage with others in one’s community.
Over the years we have seen the weight of this need, as close to 20,000 young adults age out of U.S. foster care every year. Many have no safe support system and struggle to build one as many do not recognize safe relationships or know how to develop and maintain them.
How Can the Church Get Involved
There are many ways that the church can step up to help youth aging out of state care! Here are a few places to start:
Prayer and getting into the Word.
There is a very clear call on the church to care for this population. When the church steps into this sphere, eternity is impacted. (Isaiah 1:16-18, Exodus 22, Deuteronomy 10:17-19, Psalm 68:4-6, Psalm 10:14-19, Proverbs 3:27-28, John 14, James 1)
Volunteer with organizations, in your community, that are doing the work well.
Local organizations working with foster care, homeless prevention, and/or human trafficking are a great place to start.
Be a connection for vulnerable families in your community.
If you can be a support network for vulnerable families, you could help prevent youth from ever entering the foster care system.
Support our work.
Empty Frames Initiative is still pursuing our first in-person space, and you can support us through prayer, giving, and volunteering. You can find more on our website: www.fillingemptyframes.org.
Miriam Cobb is the founder and director at Empty Frames Initiative, a 501(c)(3)non-profit dedicated to empowering orphaned and vulnerable youth as they transition out of state care.
Miriam advocates for youth exiting care within this role, compiles new and successful resources for this population and develops programs and curricula to meet this international need.