Does Safe Families work?
It’s a valid question, and one I’ve asked myself from time to time. I mean, let’s be honest. It’s a sacrifice to have people in your home. It’s physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging to be in charge of other people’s kids. And anytime you invest in other people, you want to see a payoff, right? You want to know that what you’re doing is working.
So how do you measure success with Safe Families?
We’ve had a number of what I call “repeat customers” over the years. In other words, we’ve hosted a lot of the same kids over and over. We have some moms we’ve built relationships with, so they feel comfortable contacting us directly, rather than through Safe Families, to ask if we’re able to help out with their kids.
Some might think that’s a sign that it’s not working. Shouldn’t these moms be “getting it together” so they don’t need to reach out to Safe Families anymore?
Allow me to answer a question with a question. (Because everyone loves that.) 🙂
Do you ever ask for help? Does that mean you don’t have it all together?
I’m a mom, and I ask for help ALL the time. Like alllllll the time. (And if you know me, you know I clearly don’t have it all together.) I ask friends to watch my son. I ask my in-laws to watch him. I ask people to carpool, or to give him rides to school or sports – practices and games. I even ask people to feed him. (I know, what kind of a mother am I?!)
I can remember when Noah was in elementary school, and up to third grade, students had to be released to an authorized adult. Many times I’d be running late from work and would text another mom to sign Noah out for me so he wouldn’t have to wait at the front office.
I have ONE kid, AND a supportive, involved spouse, and I STILL rely heavily on the help of others!
To be clear, I have no shame about this. We exist to be in community, end of story. (Also I make sure to repay the favors any time I can.)
Now, our Safe Families moms are often in dire straits, so of course we want their situations to improve. But expecting them to never ask for help with their children would be like shaming me for asking other moms to carpool.
So continuing to ask for help from Safe Families is certainly not a sign that it’s not working. On the contrary – it shows that it IS working!
Let me explain further.
The goal of Safe Families is NOT to fix anyone; it’s to provide a support system to moms who don’t have one.
I know who I’d call on to help with my child in the event of a crisis. Do you? I have a list in my mind of several healthy, trustworthy people who would drop everything at a moment’s notice to help me.
Our Safe Families moms? They don’t have that. They come to Safe Families out of desperation. Most of them are ashamed and apprehensive about having complete strangers watch their kids. (Can you blame them?) But in many cases the alternative is losing their kids to the foster care system.
So they entrust their most precious assets to Safe Families, and a beautiful thing happens: they learn that there are people out there with no ulterior motives, who want nothing in return. They just want to help.
So the reason we have “repeat customers” is because now these moms DO have a network of trusted people to help care for their kids. The thought of that is so beautiful, it brings tears to my eyes.
And THAT is how we know Safe Families works.