BUCKHANNON — Burlington United Methodist Family Services, Inc. COO Sheila Walker was the guest speaker at Rotary last week. In recognition of May being National Foster Care Awareness month, she brought attention to the 7,000 West Virginia children in the foster care system and the many ways her organization helps.
Originally founded in 1913, Burlington United Methodist Family Services, Inc. has grown tremendously throughout the years to become a multi-service agency with sites serving all 55 counties throughout West Virginia and also Western Maryland. Burlington’s Christian mission is changing lives by preventing harm and providing hope and healing to hurting children and families. Their core values are Christ centered, client focused, and mission driven.
Walker emphasized, “We do not have congregate care. To me, that’s a dirty word. We do therapy, we take the kids to church, we do fun things like go to the movies and try to make sure they have a normal life. We do everything for those kids in residential treatment that you would do for your own children at home. They learn to love us, and we love them.”
BUMFS, Inc. currently provides the following community-based services: Domestic and International Adoption, Birth Parent Counseling, Specialized Foster Care, Youth Services, Right From the Start, Targeted Case Management, Coexisting Disorders, Student Intervention, SARAH’S House, Safe at Home, Parents as Teachers, Community Engagement, 10 Residential programs, Spiritual Life, Home Finding, Social Necessities Services, Staggers’ Recovery House, and the Pathways Transitional Living Program.
Funding for the agency is received through personal, business, church and organizational donations, as well as the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources through purchase of service contracts and grants. Fundraising and other supportive endeavors are conducted on an ongoing basis by the Public Relations and Marketing Department. Today, BUMFS, Inc. is one of the largest, most diverse multi-service agencies in West Virginia, providing services to infants, children, youth and families.
According to Walker, the state will soon implement Family First, which is a new federal initiative, that will focus on bringing the 300 plus foster children that have been placed out of state, back into West Virginia. Another initiative called QRTP, will be utilized to provide more intensive services. Vulnerable Youth is another new program geared towards children at risk for human trafficking to teach them how to recognize these dangers and how to avoid them. Older youth will also benefit from the innovative Transitional Living programs BUMFS, Inc. is starting.
For more information about any of the services BUMFS provides, please call 304-289-6010 or email [email protected]