Goshen Valley Trees

Empower Cherokee at Goshen Valley

Empower Cherokee Collects School Supplies for Goshen Homes siblings.

On Thursday, Jul 28, 2022, a group of adults from Empower Cherokee came to visit Goshen Valley’s office at The Mill on Etowah in Canton, Georgia.

They didn’t come empty handed either! Just in time for the start of school, they dropped off an abundance of school supplies for the foster children at Goshen Homes.

Empower Cherokee is another Canton, GA nonprofit, located off of Univeter Road.

Their mission is “to empower people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live life as they define it through employment and social connections, and the support necessary for each person to achieve their hopes and dreams.” They serve those with intellectual and developmental disabilities with love and care through employment services, community access, and residential living.

The crew generously and enthusiastically came together to provide school supplies for the siblings in foster care being cared for at Goshen Homes. 

At Goshen Homes, we believe siblings in foster care shouldn’t be separated.

That’s why we recruit, train, license, and support foster parents for siblings in foster care. Goshen Homes, established in 2016, has become our largest program, currently serving 55 foster youth.

We are so grateful for our friends and fellow community members at Empower Cherokee for the effort and kindness shown as they worked to gather the supplies and drop them off at our Canton office. Oftentimes, foster kids come to us without basic items, much less backpacks, pencils, calculators, and other necessary school supplies. Thanks to their efforts, the sibling groups at Goshen Homes and the foster parents caring for them were provided with ample supplies going into the start of the fall school year.

Thank you Empower Cherokee!

Together Facing The Challenge: Goshen Homes

Goshen Homes has officially been certified in Together Facing the Challenge (TFTC), officially credentialing the foster care provider with an evidence-based approach.

TFTC certification means that Goshen Homes is able to provide a proven therapeutic foster care training and coaching program. Our goal is to ensure that our foster parents are equipped to best care for the children in their homes, learning systems that make fostering less confusing, and taking care of themselves in the process. This will in turn lead to foster youth experiencing more stable placements and greater lifelong outcomes. 

According to the TFTC website, the program aims “to improve the skills of foster parents and their agency staff. The model focuses specifically on the in-home intervention elements (and creating adequate skill levels to implement these strategies effectively) and on the important role of supervision and coaching in helping foster parents work effectively. We don’t ask agencies to “re-invent the wheel” — instead, the goal of TFTC is to work with agencies to enhance what they already do well by growing their knowledge & expertise with evidence-informed approaches to improve practice & outcomes for youth in care.” 

Gaining this TFTC certification was an 18-month process for the Goshen Homes team, involving many trainings and a great deal of refining to programmatic elements. Goshen Valley CEO Zach Blend shared his praise of the Goshen Homes team when stating what this means for the future of Goshen. 

“I am both pleased and equally proud of our Goshen Homes Staff and foster families for the dedication and commitment it has taken to complete the Together Facing the Challenge certification. To be recognized with other therapeutic foster care providers has been a goal of ours that was laid out as part of our most recent strategic plan. We’re confident the utilization of this evidenced-based model will provide the tools needed for our families to thrive in their capacity as foster parents”

To learn more about fostering with Goshen Homes, visit Goshencalley.org/homes. To learn more about Together Facing the Challenge, visit sites.duke.edu/tftc.

Goshen Valley Trees

Goshen Homes Celebrates 10 Reunifications

Goshen Homes: keeping siblings together and reuniting families.

Goshen Homes is designed for reunification.
We believe that the best place for a child is with their family, if their family can get healthy and stable. While adoptions do happen occasionally, our main priority is for kids to end up back in their family. We are thrilled to say that in July we celebrated 10 youth returning to their families! 

*These names were were changed for privacy reasons.
While we love the pictures that come with an adoption celebration, we want to celebrate family reunifications just as much! There is no better example of Goshen Homes living out its mission than the above 4 families coming back together!

Not only were all of these sibling groups placed together during their time in care (another key component of Goshen Homes' mission), they are leaving foster care returning to healthy families!

Help Goshen Homes Cover the Gap!

Goshen Valley receives the majority of our funding from Georgia DFCS. We receive a certain amount for each day a child is in our care. Thanks to your generosity, Goshen is in a strong enough place financially to push for reunifications without hesitation. You have allowed us to always pursue the best possible outcome for each child regardless of the financial implication.

Your support today will ensure that Goshen stays in this place of strength, always knowing that we can put the needs of our kids first.

Donate to help restore families.

Thank you for making reunifications like these possible..

Our team is thankful for you, but I know there are 4 families who are even more grateful.

-Your Goshen Family

P.S: We have some amazing foster parents who stand in the gap to love these children during their time in foster care. We need more people who are interested in providing a loving home to sibling groups.

If you'd like to learn more about fostering, download our fostering guide at Goshenvalley.org/homes

A Letter from our Founder...

With the end of the year approaching and our need for giving growing with the holidays, our founder, John Blend, sent a letter to our donors. We wanted to share it with you, our Goshen Family.



I was raised a Lutheran. Sunday School, acolyte, Boy Scout, Little League, Luther League, on to a Lutheran college. My dad took the same train every day, my mom was at home. I was in the inaugural Baby Boomer batch.

In 1966, the summer of my sophomore year in college, I studied Latin American literature at the National University of Mexico, in Mexico City, DF. When not in class, I worked in a jewelry factory near the University. Over the summer, I volunteered at a Catholic orphanage in the suburbs of Mexico City. The orphans were “thalidomide babies”, born with no arms. I brought broken jewelry from the factory to the orphanage and the kids were paid to restring the broken necklaces with their feet and toes. When I came back to the States that fall, I would try to send the Mother Superior $20 when I could.

Thus came the seeds of Goshen Valley.

Twenty years ago, having spent the years prior riding horses and teaching my daughter to drive our old Jeep, God woke the seeds brought from the hills of Mexico City, and led the Blends to welcoming hurting kids and servant families to Goshen Valley. We established the Goshen Valley Foundation in 1998, and gifted Goshen Valley back to Christ.

Over these past 2 decades, the Goshen Family has listened, learned, and executed. A dear preacher friend observed some years ago that he preferred if Goshen would pray, not plan, as the story has already been written. There’s wisdom there.

So, what is in store for Goshen? If the past is the prelude, we will continue to serve. Our community will continue to sacrifice at our side and on our behalf. We will hope that our Father is pleased with the sanctuary He has given us.

In a coming note, Zach will share more about where Goshen is heading in the future. For now, I want to thank you for your role in the past 20 years of Goshen. We believe God has made the world a more welcoming place for the youth who have called Goshen Valley home, and for that, we thank you.

With love and much gratitude,

John Blend

Garrett & Amber Holcombe

Our primary foster parents become full-time caretakers to the foster youth placed in their care. As a licensed sibling reunification agency, we focus on foster homes able to take in 2 or more youth. The increased work of caring for multiple foster youth is balanced with higher daily payment rates, low case management turnover, applicable and relevant trainings, foster parent support groups, and partnerships with respite foster parents to provide an occasional break.

Garrett and Amber Holcombe were two of our first foster parents. In June 2018 the siblings that they had fostered for 908 days became part of their family. Their story shows clearly that fostering is not always easy, but it is rewarding beyond belief. Garrett was willing to share their Goshen Story.

“In late December 2015, Amber received a call from Cherokee County DFCS asking us if we would be willing to foster the children of one of Amber’s friends should the children be removed from their home that night. We immediately said we would be happy to do so, and the next day we had an 8 year old boy and 10 year old girl in our two-bedroom townhome with us. Having never been parents before we got a crash course in parenthood.”

“After a rough first few months of fostering, I caught up with Zach Blend and he described the new foster home branch that Goshen Valley had started. He invited Amber and me to sit down with him and the director of Goshen Homes. Zach was a lifesaver. He and Goshen Homes surrounded us with love, support, and resources like a big, warm hug! We became licensed foster parents through their tutelage and were able to receive training so we could provide for our precious foster children’s physical needs as well as their emotional needs. The case managers, support staff, and directors with Goshen Homes were so knowledgeable and supportive of us as much as they were with the kids.”

“The process and journey of fostering a child can be turbulent. I liken our sojourn through 2.5 years of fostering as being a boat on the ocean with no engine – you are at the mercy of the wind, weather, and waves. In our case, we had moments of calm in between being tossed about by storms – biological parent visitations and hectic communications, court dates with little or no progress, and the children’s negative reactions to both. Goshen Valley was always there for us, checking in and making sure Amber and I were prepared for whatever might come our way.”

“On June 25th, 2018 after fostering them for 908 days, we welcomed Matthew and Samantha as forever part of our family. What started as nothing more than wanting information turned into finding our forever family. Without Zach Blend, along with the marvelous folks at Goshen Valley and Goshen Homes, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We owe so much to Goshen Valley and cannot thank them enough for all they have done for us. While our fulltime foster campaign may have come to an end, we will soon be providing respite care for other Goshen Homes families.”

Greg and Virginia Elder

Our respite foster parents become the “cool aunt and uncle” to our foster youth. As a respite foster parent, you are able to have an incredible impact on a foster child without the full time commitment of having them live in your home. In addition to the impact on the child, respite care allows our foster parents to take a breather and recharge.

Greg and Virgina Elder have been respite foster parents with Goshen Valley for over two years, and they have shared some of their Goshen Story. 

“We became interested in foster care after attending the Cherokee Homecoming panel discussion in early 2016. At this event we learned that there were over 100 children from Cherokee County in foster care who were having to be housed outside of Cherokee County due to a lack of foster parents within the County, and that siblings were being spilt up in the process.”

“After some discussion, prayer, and discernment, we determined that our schedules would not permit us to be full time foster parents.  Then we learned about Respite Foster Care.”

“We learned that full time foster parents need a “break” from time to time, and we learned of the obstacles to traveling out of state with foster children. Respite Foster Care was a solution that also helped full time foster parents from “burning out”.  Knowing that there was already a shortage of full time foster parents in Cherokee County, Virginia and I decided that Respite Foster Care was a way we could help.  With grown children and 2 empty bedrooms we felt God calling us to move in this way.”

“Our first placement was a teenage boy who we kept for around a week. Since we both still work full time we were grateful that Goshen Homes had an agreement with the YMCA where we could take him during the day.  The evenings were filled with several adventures including a Braves game, fishing at a nearby pond and watching fireworks from a boat on the 4th of July.  We enjoyed our time with him and were sad to see him go as he returned to his full time foster family. Our time since then has included older boys and more recently, two sisters. We’ve kept them twice now, and they have captured our hearts.”

“These children deserve and need a loving environment.  Their full time foster parents need a breather from time to time.  As a Respite Foster Care parent you control your schedule, and the Goshen Team supports you in every way possible.  Your commitment is whatever you make it, whenever you can make it.”

“Respite Foster Care is well suited for busy, working couples who have a little extra room in their homes, their schedules, and in their hearts for children who need to know that others care. If you have any questions about Respite Foster Care, we would love to talk with you.”

2017 Year End Review

An Interview with Claire Parker

Claire Parker has been in the role of Therapeutic Case Manager with Goshen Homes for six months. Her responsibilities include establishing a relationship with the children when they come into care, helping ensure a smooth transition into Goshen Homes and helping foster families get the support they need. Some of the support she provides are supervised visits, transportation help with kids, along with communication and emotional support through the journey of fostering.

When asked what she loves about working for Goshen Valley she said, “It is the passion for the work we do. It always goes back to the children that we serve and it is evident everyone’s heart is in the right place.”

Claire is very hands on in her role and always shows great care to the families and children she serves. One of the most fulfilling parts of her job is visiting with our Goshen Homes families and watching the children interact in their new environment. She said, “you can see the good fit and connection between the two and it makes me love my job!” It is a unique process for the children and foster families when they begin to integrate into foster care. Claire is able to be there with the child from day one and beyond. She is a first-hand witness to the amazing transformation that takes place.

Being a case manager comes with its trials but the “wins” make up for the difficulties. From Claire’s experience she said that the most amazing thing is seeing God’s hand at work in placing the kids where they need to be. Our team works hard to make the right decisions in placement but Claire said time and time again we see that “the kids always land where they are supposed to land.”
We are incredibly thankful for the way Claire serves and loves the youth in our care!

Goshen Homes: Informational Meetings

Join us for an informational meeting to learn more about becoming a Goshen Homes foster family and our unique Professional Foster Parent employment opportunities.

To learn about the next meeting, visit Goshenvalley.org/homes and use the contact box to request information

*childcare is provided with RSVP

Goshen Homes FAQ:

Q. Who is Goshen Homes?

Goshen Homes is the new foster care program of the Goshen Valley Foundation. Goshen Homes is a licensed Child Placing Agency that partners with DFCS to recruit, train and equip foster families to provide stable and loving homes to children in foster care.

Q. How is Goshen Homes different from other Child Placing Agencies?

The Goshen Valley Foundation is piloting a specialized foster care program specific to Sibling Reunification in Cherokee and Bartow counties. We are looking for foster families that are willing to take more than one child in an effort to keep siblings together when they enter foster care. Unlike other agencies, Goshen provides an enhanced financial model and therapeutic programming that includes support and training to ensure our families have what they need to take in sibling groups.

Q. Are there costs involved to become a Goshen Homes foster parent?

As a foster parent you must prove financial stability as part of the home study process. However, Goshen recognizes the financial burden that comes with adding multiple children to your household. Goshen does not want your financial status to be a barrier to ministry and therefore is prepared to assess your financial needs and offer an enhanced financial model that may include assistance with housing costs, food, transportation and potential salary for stay at home parents. Financial assistance varies depending on how many children you are fostering.

Q. Does a Goshen Homes foster family have a say in choosing children?

Yes. Goshen Homes serves children between the ages of 0-18. During the home study process you will discuss the type of children you are interested in fostering. Through the home study process we will determine how many children and what types of children are the best match for your household.

Q. How long do foster children stay in care?

The length of time varies according to the needs of the children and their families. Some children are placed briefly (a few days) while some remain for months to years.

Q. Are the children available for adoption?

Yes. When reunification with their biological family is not an option, an adoptive family for the children is sought.

Q. What responsibilities does the foster parent have?

Foster parents are responsible for the 24/7 care of the children in their home. Children in foster care have unique needs and may require counseling, visitation with birth parents and other needed appointments while in the foster home. With the help of Goshen Homes staff, foster parents ensure that the children's physical, emotional, spiritual, medical and educational need s are met. This includes coordination, transportation, and advocacy for the children placed in their home.