Isaiah 117 House’s mission: ‘Offer touch of home’ in foster child transition

Published 10:22 am Monday, July 10, 2017

A Carter County couple, who are foster parents to two little boys, is on a mission. They want to help kids who are in need of comfort and care before transitioning into foster care.

Cory and Ronda Paulson’s vision is the Isaiah 117 House. Currently, when a child is removed from their home by the Department of Children’s Services, they go to a DCS office, which is oftentimes a drab conference room with few toys and a small restroom where staff members can help the kids clean up. The wait is typically a few hours, with a roll away cot if the children have to stay all night.
“We want to change that. Rather than going to a DCS office, we want these children to be able to go to a home environment and be loved on and have needs met,” said Ronda Paulson. “We say we are caring for children in transition, awaiting foster placement. We are really talking about two to six hours.

“Entering foster care can be very traumatic for a child. They are taken away from everything that is familiar to them, and it’s oftentimes a difficult adjustment to make. I feel that our eyes have been opened to a need, and Cory and I are asking the community to help with the mission of helping every child entering the foster care system.

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“We want to do whatever we can to ease that transition, mainly for the child. But, it would also benefit DCS workers and foster parents, as well. When I first encountered this problem, I thought there has to be a better way. What if they could go to a home? And, that’s how the Isaiah 117 House was conceived,” Ronda explained.

The house name refers to a portion of Isaiah 1:17, which speaks of “taking up the cause of the fatherless.”

Ronda and Cory are presently caring for two foster children, biological brothers, the youngest of whom is only nine months old.

“It’s not easy being a foster parent, but it’s a calling and it is most rewarding,” said Ronda, who is employed at Milligan College. Cory is Director of Marketing and Communications at Mountain States Health Alliance. Both are Milligan College graduates.

Paulson and her Isaiah 117 House team are currently working under the umbrella of an exiting non profit, but hope to have their status complete in a few months.

They are trying to raise $75,000 to buy a house, followed by renovations with an opening goal of next year.

“This will be done in phases. The first phase is to get the house. A couple in Elizabethton has offered us a house for $75,000 and are holding it until we raise the money to buy it. The second phase will be to renovate it with the help of volunteers. We hope to have Phase II completed by spring of 2018.

“Phase III will consist of training volunteers and raising monthly support, and the final phase will be opening the home. We hope to do this by the fall of 2018,” Ronda explained.

They will kick off the fundraising with a community event August 1 at noon in the Pine Room behind Sycamore Shoals Hospital.