Imagine yourself as a single mom with three young children. Your doctor discovers a health issue that requires surgery and a hospital stay. Your parents live in another state and both work. You have a few friends, but none close enough that you’d consider asking them to take care of your children while you’re in the hospital. As the date approaches for your surgery, you become desperate. Who’s going to watch your children?
That’s what Stephanie wondered, until she heard about Safe Families for ChildrenTM (SFFC). Through this national movement, Stephanie’s three children were taken in by a wonderful Christian couple in her city. A month after her surgery, Stephanie and her children were back together again.
“If it wasn’t for Safe Families [for Children], I don’t know what I would have done,” Stephanie told a local reporter. “I think the State would have taken my children.”
Safe Families for Children is a national movement of compassion that gives hope to families in crisis. Safe, loving homes are provided where parents seek to restore stability in their lives. Safe Families for Children has partnered with churches, local community agencies, and volunteer families, as well as government organizations in more than a dozen states.
The goal for SFFC is to simply extend a helping hand to families in crisis without involving State bureaucracy. It’s really a modern-day version of what people used to do when extended families lived closer together: take someone’s children in for a brief period of time so the parents can get back on their feet. But because we now live in a much more mobile society with families separated due to their work, parents can feel pretty isolated when a crisis strikes. Those crises served by SFFC include sudden unemployment or loss of housing, financial difficulties, acute illness or hospitalization, drug or alcohol addiction, and domestic violence.
Parents like Stephanie who turn to SFFC retain custody of their children throughout the process. Children are able to temporarily stay with a host family and parents can terminate the arrangement any time they want. To ensure the safety of the children, host families undergo background checks and are fingerprinted. They are not paid for their services but sign on because they share our goal of keeping children and parents together. The host “mom” for Stephanie’s children described her experience as “extremely rewarding,” a sentiment we hear repeated over and over from other host parents.
The best part about Safe Families for Children is that everyone wins. During the period when the children are living with a host family, we work with the parent to help her (or him) regain stability so they can be reunited with their children quickly and safely. The host parents receive the satisfaction of knowing they are keeping a family intact. But most important, the children benefit from the love and care of a family rather than having to enter an often over-burdened institutional setting.
More than 10,000 children have been served by SFFC since it was founded. Yet thousands more could benefit if more families stepped forward to volunteer. What a great way to demonstrate Christ’s love for children and influence a struggling mom or dad.
Could your home become a temporary, loving sanctuary for children?
To hear Aja’s story of how Safe Families for Children helped her and her six children, click here.