How Safe Families Works
Parents experiencing a temporary crisis can arrange for their children (newborn through 18 years old) to stay with Safe Families volunteers while they address the issues that led to the instability in their lives.
Safe Families for Children volunteers are supervised by the church’s ministry staff, which in turn is supported by professional child care specialists @ Koinonea Family Services.
Children are matched with families in their own community whenever possible, and placements average from one day to three months. During that time, Safe Families caseworkers are available to provide volunteers with support and answer any questions they might have.
Volunteers open their homes to children whose parents are experiencing a short-term emergency, such as hospitalization, or a longer-term crisis, such as drug abuse.
Designed to extend and strengthen the community safety net for at-risk families, Safe Families is a positive alternative to the state child welfare system, allowing parents to work out their problems without having to worry about losing custody of their children.
The program’s goal is to reunite children with their biological parent(s) in a home that is more stable and healthy, in part because of the contribution of the Safe Families intervention.
How? By Modeling the Love of Christ
WHAT ABOUT THE PARENTS?
The child’s biological parents maintain full legal custody during the placement and are encouraged to be actively involved in their children’s lives, as well as to develop a relationship with their Safe Families volunteer family.
Safe Families caseworkers keep in close contact with the parents in planning for a healthy reunification of the family.
WHY DON’T THE KIDS HAVE A PLACE TO GO?
When crisis strikes many of us rely on relatives and our church family for support. But for some parents, there isn’t a safety net. Often problems such as illness, drug addiction, domestic abuse or unemployment can be debilitating, making it impossible for parents to care for their children.
Positive Family Reunification is the #1 Priority
THROUGH SAFE FAMILIES MINISTRIES AN OVERWHELMING 85% OF CHILDREN HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFULLY RETURNED TO THEIR BIOLOGICAL PARENTS…
AND SOME 90% HAVE BEEN DEFLECTED FROM STATE CUSTODY.
Hallmarks of the Safe Family Model
- Biological parents maintain full custody;
- Volunteer families are extensively screened, educated, and supported;
- Six-week average length of stay (ranging from two days to a year)
- Close working relationships between Safe Families, the local church, and the referring organization
- Commitment to reunite the family as soon as possible
- Fully funded by private donations – NO government funding is involved
Safe Families for Children expands the community safety net by providing parents in need on their own or at the recommendation of a case worker a loving sanctuary where they can safely place their children in times of crisis.
Host Families, prompted solely by compassion, are screened, trained and serve without compensation.
Designed to positively impact and support at-risk families, Safe Families is a non-coercive alternative to the state child welfare system, allowing parents to work out their problems without having to worry about losing custody of their child.
Safe Families is a collaborative effort bringing together a network of churches, ministries, and social service providers for a common goal—to reunite children with their biological parent(s) in a home that is more stable and healthy.
Relying on the strengths and drawing upon the expertise of each of these organizations, host families are supported, educated and regularly visited to ensure the experience is successful for everyone involved.
Early Intervention: Safe Families provides a safe alternative to child welfare custody (i.e. Foster Care).
Families are given time, practical support as well as spiritual support and encouragement to address risk factors and problems in their lives that, if left unattended, could result in neglect or harm to the child and the family as a whole.
Child Abuse Prevention: Providing an overwhelmed and resource-limited parent with a safe, temporary place for their child without threat of losing custody can avert potential abuse/neglect episodes.
Family Support and Stabilization: Many parents struggle because of limited informal social supports and unavailable extended family. Many Safe Families volunteers, through the Church, become the extended family that a parent never had.
Opportunities to Serve
The Safe Families movement is only successful when the body of Christ working in and with the community come together to support families in need as well as Safe Family ministry volunteers.
Volunteers are needed at every level to help provide for the needs of the families served. Volunteer opportunities for the Safe Families Ministry include:
Volunteer families willing to open their homes to children in crises and provide a safe and loving home and family atmosphere for them on a temporary basis.
Volunteers who directly support Host Families and who facilitate the relationship between the biological parent(s) and volunteer Safe Family during a placement.
FAMILY FRIENDS AND RESOURCE FRIENDS
Volunteers willing to provide short term (usually less than 24 hours), temporary care of children to allow volunteer families to run errands, shop, or simply get a break.
Groups of individuals providing prayer, encouragement, and support to volunteer and biological families. Examples include bible studies, play groups, coffee talks, movie night, attending church, and any other activities which act to strengthen and encourage families in their faith, and their commitment to God and each other.
Mature Christians serving in a mentoring role to connect with biological families; assisting with and addressing the circumstances that led to their crisis.
Material Resource Providers:
Most children come to Safe Families with very few supplies and possessions and Host Families are not reimbursed for any expenses they incur. Therefore the donation of children’s items including (but not limited to): diapers, formula, cribs, car seats, strollers, and clothing are essential.
Professionals willing to provide services at a donated or discounted rate for the support of children in crisis and/or ministry Host Families. Doctors, dentists, hair-care professionals, handymen and house cleaners are just a few examples.