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Oct 22, 2014

Contributed by Janet Cockrum, PHd, a Safe Families for ChildrenTM coordinator in partnership with Bethany Christian Services

Abby* and her siblings were shown amazing love and compassion over a two month period and made a lot of new friends. "We like all your friends! We can't decide who we like best." Nine year old Abby said this to me during a visit with her Safe Family for ChildrenTM host family. Safe Families is a volunteer driven, professionally supported ministry of the church in local communities.

While Eric and Cara provided primary care for these children, there were occasions such as soccer tournaments and family events that took them out of town. During these times Safe Family friends, churches and host families opened their homes to love and care for the children, while their parents were working through crisis. Over fifty adults and children became a community and network of support to this sibling group. They collectively provided the children with tutoring and delivered homemade meals twice a week as well as provided daytime care to allow Cara to attend her women’s Bible study. Volunteers arranged and escorted the children to weekly visits to meet with their parents at a park. What a beautiful demonstration of God’s love this was for me—as this team of generous volunteers provided tender care for these children under the umbrella of Bethany Christian Services.

Children, while in the care of their Safe Family host families are loved on and nurtured—having their needs met practically and emotionally. When Eric and Cara gave this sibling group their very own lunchboxes … you would have thought it was Christmas morning! They had never had lunchboxes before. It was a status symbol. A powerful symbol of being loved giving them a sense of belonging. More than removing the need to stand in a long lunch line at school – it removed uncertainty, too. More than just meeting a practical need, these lunchboxes gave them a sense they were cared for.

Unlike traditional foster care programs that remove children from homes in situations when it is not the parent’s choice, SFFC provides parents struggling with unmanageable or critical circumstances the opportunity to temporarily place their children in a loving sanctuary while also receiving compassion and support. Safe Families for ChildrenTM was founded in 2002 by Dr. David Anderson of Lydia Home in Chicago. He was moved by young mothers needing a safe home for their children while they dealt with a short-term crisis.

Host families come alongside the parents offering support while providing temporary care for their children­­—as volunteers. They are committed to praying for the family, listening, encouraging, and supporting parents who do not have extended family or community support to come alongside them. Watch Katie Couric’s video or click here to learn more about this national movement and how you can be a Safe Family friend of host family or integrate Safe Families into your church ministry.

 

Listen to Bethany Christian Services’ Every Child podcast for more on issues relative to vulnerable children. From adoption and foster care to the introduction of sustainable social services in developing countries, Every Child features an informative discussion, led by Bethany’s President/CEO Bill Blacquiere, with leading voices from ministries and nonprofit organizations, as well as Christian authors and artists.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy