Have you ever heard of Safe Families for Children?
If you know me, you likely have. 🙂 Otherwise, perhaps not.
I want you to know about it. Why? Several reasons:
- it’s an amazing organization that deserves attention
- it’ll make you feel good about humanity
- you may know someone in need who could use Safe Families someday
- you may want to volunteer as a Host Family or Family Friend someday
So, what is Safe Families?
Here’s a quote from the Safe Families website:
Safe Families for Children is a movement fueled by compassion to keep children safe and families intact. Through Host Families, Family Friends, and Family Coaches, we temporarily host children and provide a network of support to families in crisis while they get back on their feet. We open our hearts, open our arms, and open our homes.
Since its inception in 2003, Safe Families has been responsible for over 35,000 hostings. Ninety-three percent (93%) of the children hosted return home. Over 4,500 churches and over 25,000 volunteers nationwide partner with Safe Families.
Safe Families is not a government program. It was born out of a response to an underserved population of families who did not qualify for state intervention but were nevertheless at risk.
How Safe Families Works
The following is a graphic from the Safe Families website:
Let me be clear: These are NOT unfit parents. These are parents (mostly single moms) who have custody of their children but don’t have a healthy support system. Whereas if you or I had a medical emergency or experienced a family crisis, we’d likely have a number of people we could call upon to help with our kids while we deal with whatever’s facing us, these moms don’t.
In our experience, the moms of kids we’ve hosted love their kids very much. They’re just going through a tough time and need help. We all need help sometimes, don’t we?
Statistically, social isolation can eventually lead to abuse and neglect, landing the kids in the foster care system… and sadly, it’s all downhill from there. So the goal of Safe Families is to be that support system these moms need. Then the kids go home, and the family remains intact.
Once you’re certified as a Host Family, you’ll receive notifications via text and/or email, letting you know of hosting needs in your area. If you feel so inclined, you can contact the Safe Families office and inquire further, or simply say yes to the need. Every so often, Safe Families will contact us directly to ask for help with a certain need – usually if we’ve hosted the children before. In any case, there’s never any pressure whatsoever. And there’s no guilt for saying no to a hosting.
Here’s an example of a text you might receive: OC hosting for B8 & G3 starting tomorrow for 1-2 weeks or any length of time. Mom securing housing. Often the texts will indicate whether the children can be separated or need to stay together.
Here are some of the reasons for the hostings we’ve done:
- family homeless
- mom giving birth
- mom hospitalized
- mom going through chemotherapy
- family living in car
- mom working two jobs, babysitter goes to Mexico for weekends and children can’t stay alone
- grandparents raising grandchildren and need help/ respite
- foster family or other Safe Families host family traveling and cannot take child with them
These are just some examples. There’s no real “criteria” other than having a need.
Safe Families kids range from 0-18 years old. Hostings can last anywhere from overnight to a year, though the average stay is about 6 weeks.
Host families don’t make any money – this is a volunteer program. However, other volunteers, known as Family Friends, will pitch in to help with needs. For example, if you’re hosting a baby, you may get diapers, formula, and a crib donated. One time, we hosted 5 kids at once and volunteers brought meals, gift cards, toilet paper, and more. The generous response of so many volunteers was overwhelming; it still brings tears to my eyes.
More to come!
Feel free to reach out with any questions you have about Safe Families!