Mission Statement: Safe Families for Children hosts vulnerable children and creates extended family–like supports for families through a community of devoted volunteers who are motivated by compassion to keep children safe and families intact.
Vision Statement: Creating a world where children are safe, and families transformed through radically compassionate communities.
By law and policy, most state child welfare agencies are allowed to intervene on behalf of children who have suffered blatant abuse or neglect, leaving thousands of children and their families in difficult situations. With the changing economy, many more families are experiencing financial crises, unemployment, and homelessness. Others are dealing with family violence, parental drug and/or alcohol use, illness or incarceration. During such crises, many parents are facing barriers to providing a safe and caring environment for their children. Historically the extended family often stepped in to support parents by taking care of children for short periods of time, and neighbors came alongside families in crisis. However, many urban, suburban, and rural families are socially isolated and their extended family is non-existent or not available. The children in a family traumatized by crisis become especially at risk for neglect or abuse as their parents struggle to cope with crushing circumstances and emotions. Without assistance, many of these situations will lead to abuse/neglect episodes with long-lasting consequences for the child.
Safe Families for Children hosts vulnerable children and creates extended family-like supports for families through a community of compassionate volunteers motivated by their faith to keep children safe and ultimately together with their families. Founded in Chicago in 2003, Safe Families for Children (SFFC) is a multi-site volunteer movement that gives hope and support to families in distress. SFFC reframes how families are supported during a crisis. Parents voluntarily place their children in safe, loving homes where they are cared for while (average of 6 weeks) while other volunteers wrap around and support the parent to help them get back on their feet and restore stability in their lives. SFFC is dedicated to family support, stabilization and, most importantly, child abuse prevention.
Public foster care: Safe Families desires to prevent child abuse (safety) and decrease the number of children being forcibly separated from their parents (family preservation). By doing so, public foster care will have sufficient resources to intervene and support families who desperately need them. Many families, even when they are doing ‘all the right things’ are just one crisis away from major instability in their lives. Under-resourced communities leave families in the throes of hospitalization, unemployment, incarceration, substance abuse recovery, and other crises related to poverty without the resources and support to care for their children. These children are then at risk for trauma, abuse, and neglect. The foster care system is overloaded with an estimated 438,000 youth, 70% of which may not even need to be there. The number of incoming children is outpacing the number exiting, with 270,000+ children entering every year, more than half of which are never reunited with their families. The prevailing approach to supporting this population is not working and the situation is only getting worse. 37 percent of children across the US will be subjected to a child welfare investigation prior to their 18th birthday and over 50 percent of black children will be reported1 . On average, a child placed into the foster care system will rotate between multiple homes before finding a permanent placement. This disruption to the stability in their lives has adverse effects on educational, social and behavioral outcomes.
Safe Families works with families who are on the edge of government intervention (and possible forced removals) but also moves upstream to help families before they come to the attention of the government. Against this backdrop, Safe Families is challenging the prevailing approach of foster care and demonstrating that when kids are safe and parents are supported, forced removals of children from their parents can be reduced.
How is success defined?
Children are safe, families are preserved.