Safe Families for Children

Safe Families for Children at Faith CRC

 
What is Safe Families?
  • Safe Families for Children partners with the local church to provide a loving sanctuary where parents can safely and voluntarily place their children in times of need.  Volunteers provide support for the family during the time of need and beyond.
  • Safe Families for Children is not a government funded agency. It is volunteer driven and professionally supported through the Safe Families organization and Bethany Christian Services.
  • There are approximately 70 sites in the US and Canada providing Safe Family services. In Chicago where Safe Families originated, the number of children going into the foster care system has dropped by half.
  • 85% of children served through Safe Families return to their homes vs. 25% in foster care.
  • Our NW Iowa Safe Families coordinator works out of the Orange City office.
  • Further information about Safe Families for Children can be found at www.safe-families.org
 
Why become involved with the Safe Families Ministry?
  • Faith Church desires to reach out to our community. The Safe Families ministry provides opportunities to serve our neighbors.
  • We value strong families, a value which aligns with the mission of this ministry.
  • We have many gifts and talents that can be used effectively in response to families in need.
  • This ministry uses lots of volunteers--there's something for everyone who is interested in supporting this ministry.
  • The potential benefits include: spiritual growth as a result of putting faith into action, community building within our congregation and beyond into the larger community, growth in biblical hospitality, growth in compassion and justice, evangelism, and the strengthening of our own family relationships.
 
How does this work?
  • Teresa Dekkers, Onita Van Ginkel, and Dorenda Van Gaalen are currently the ministry lead team for Faith. The team reports to the Faith Mission and Outreach Committee.
  • The ministry lead team and Bethany Christian Services provide training for all volunteers who work with children.
  • Referrals come though one of our local agencies; the ministry leads help determine which host family is available to host the children.
  • Support personnel are assigned to the case: family coach, prayer partner, and family friend, if needed.
  • Regular support for the host family (such as meals or respite) is coordinated on their behalf for as long as the children are in their home.
  • The placing family receives mentoring appropriate to their situation. 
  • Bethany Christian Services provides any professional support that may be needed.
 
How can I get involved?
  • Consider whether you would like to serve in one of the key positions (see below).
  • Donate supplies.
  • Sew blankets to give to children when they are placed.
  • Put together Happy Packs and welcome care packages.
  • Spread the word about Safe Families.
  • Become a Prayer Partner.
  • Come to a training to find out more.
  • Contact a ministry team member if you have questions or for information about any of the above.
 
Something to note as you sign on to participating in this ministry:
  • Hosting children from families in crisis will not always be easy. There will likely be some messy situations, and while we don’t look forward to this, we must be aware of this reality.
  • We firmly believe that reaching out in this way is an essential part of living out our calling as members of Christ’s family.
  • The strength of this ministry is that it recognizes that a community is needed to provide a safety net for children and their families. No volunteer will be left alone in their commitment to serve a family in need.

 

VOLUNTEER JOB DESCRIPTIONS

Ministry Coordinator/Ministry Team--The Ministry Coordinator/Team is the main liaison between the Safe Families agency and his or her church community. The Ministry Coordinator/Team is also responsible for encouraging volunteers to support one another in the shared mission of serving the families who come to Safe Families for help.

Family Coach—A Family Coach visits children living with Host Families, guides the Host Families as they encounter the joys and struggles that come with opening their homes to yougn guests, ensures that the placing family stays connected with their children and host family, and helps support the placing family as they work through their crisis. Family Coaches need to go throught the background check/fingerprint process.

Host Family—The Host Family must be certified by a Home Study Specialist, pass necessary background checks, and be fingerprinted. They have a two-fold ministry of caring for children and of offering themselves up to an ongoing relationship with the parents. In this role, they are opening themselves to be transformed by God to become a spiritual extended family to the children under their care and their parents.

Respite Family—A Respite Family has been certified by a Home Study Specialist and can offer short-term, overnight child care services to Host Families. (For child care that is not overnight, responsible child care providers who are not certified may be used, much as you would for your own children.)

Family Friend—Sometimes a parent needs more help getting her feet under her than a Host Family or Coach can provide. In these cases, a Family Friend can come alongside the parent as a mentor and guide to walk with them through the process of making changes and help them gain access to the resources they need. 

Resource Friend—Resource Friends provide assistance to the other volunteers in the Safe Family movement through 1) amateur service they can offer such as child care, transportation, lawn care, and hosting support groups; 2) professional services they can offer such as physicians, dentists, mental health professionals, barbers, teachers; and 3) physical objects they can donate such as diapers, formula, and gently used clothing and baby equipment.