GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Bethany Christian Services is looking for foster families to help welcome Afghan children and teens resettling in West Michigan.

More than 20 children are placed already in Michigan and need long-term families to give them a home, Beth Caldwell with Bethany’s refugee and immigrant services in West Michigan said.

Bethany’s team is especially looking for families willing to care for teenage boys and sibling sets.

While they’re hoping to find families with a Muslim background, those without can undergo a cultural training through the Muslim Foster Care Association as part of their foster parent training.

The Severn family in Grand Rapids took in two Afghan teenagers in November after completing the cultural training.

“They are amazing kids,” foster dad Phil Severn said. “They’re very respectful, they live in an honor culture, so they’re used to showing respect to people.”

Phil and his wife Sandy opened their home to the 14- and 17-year-old boys from Afghanistan after watching what was unfolding overseas.

“In August, when we saw the news, we were just really burdened for what was happening there and we knew there were people coming to America who needed homes,” Phil said.

The Severns said the cultural training provided by the Muslim Foster Care Association was helpful in understanding the boys’ cultural and religious needs.

“These kids are coming here for a brighter future, they want to be successful, they want to become educated and really fit into American society as much as they can while maintaining their Afghan values and their beautiful traditions,” Shereen Abunada with the Muslim Foster Care Association said.

Bethany Christian Services is holding an information session on Feb. 2 about foster care for Afghan children.

More information about how to help Afghan refugees resettling in the area can be found at