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Families Helping Families in Crisis

Safe Families for Children™ (SFFC) is a national movement of compassion that gives hope to families in crisis. This network of volunteer host families help parents who need temporary care for their children as they work through unmanageable or critical circumstances.

Safe Families for Children is not Foster Care or Adoption 

Safe Families for Children is an alternative to foster care. In foster care, children are placed into homes through the courts and foster families receive compensation for their care. Through SFFC, host families receive no compensation for caring for children, and parents voluntarily have their children stay with them. The goal of the SFFC ministry is to offer support in a time of need and reunite children with their families in a stronger home environment. This temporary care for children in need gives parents time to establish stability in their homes. 

Parents Remain Involved 

Parents are actively involved in their children’s lives and will develop a relationship with the host family. Because Safe Families for Children is not foster care, the children are not placed in the care of the State. Bethany staff work with the parents during this transition to identify steps to regain stability and be reunited with their children quickly and safely. 
Parents voluntarily have their children live with a host family because of any number of challenges they are facing, such as: 

  • Sudden unemployment or loss of housing 
  • Financial difficulties 
  • Postpartum depression 
  • Acute illness or hospitalization 
  • Financial instability 
  • Domestic violence 
  • Drug or alcohol addiction 
  • Incarceration of one parent 

Listen to an Audio Interview about Safe Families for Children

What is Safe Families for Children? Why is it a vital ministry to help stand in the gap for families who may be struggling? Listen to National Safe Families for Children Director, Tim Nolan, talk about his experience and heart for this work. 

SFFC Story

Orchard.Core.Common.Fields.TextField Testimonial

Jennifer has a word of encouragement for parents in crisis: Don’t be afraid to trust others for help. Safe Families for Children™ (SFFC), a ministry of Bethany Christian Services, can help families make it through the toughest of times.

Jennifer knows. Having survived some of the most desperate circumstances imaginable for a single mother, today she, her 2-year-old son, Amon, and her baby daughter, Aaliyah, are a happy, thriving family. But they would never have made it without the assistance SFFC provides.

In early 2011, shortly after moving to Georgia, Jennifer suffered a severe health breakdown. Unable to work full-time, she fell behind on her rent, and in April, after a ten-day hospitalization for a life-threatening heart condition, she found herself homeless upon discharge. She was 26 years old and still far from well. She was five months pregnant by Amon’s father, who left after Jennifer refused to abort her second pregnancy. She was all alone. And she was terrified. What would become of her, Amon, and her unborn baby?

With Amon still in Virginia where he stayed with her parents during her hospitalization, Jennifer slept that night at a mission and was told to leave at 5:00 the next morning. “I returned to work [as a part-time bookkeeper],” she said, “and for days slept in my office after everyone had left.”

Once she got paid, Jennifer retrieved Amon. But scared to tell her parents of her circumstances, she returned with her son to Georgia, and the two lived at a homeless shelter for several months. There she learned of a free daycare center, which provided the help Jennifer needed to land full-time employment. In due course, she and Amon moved into a new residence.

Knowing that she would need someone to care for Amon while she was having her baby, a caseworker at the daycare center gave Jennifer a Bethany Christian Services brochure about SFFC. “I tossed the brochure to the side, reluctant to let a stranger care for my baby,” said Jennifer.

Jennifer made arrangements for a friend to care for Amon while she was in the hospital, paying a sum that strained her carefully planned budget in exchange for the security of knowing that Amon was with someone she knew. She vowed to take care of both of her children on her own once she was home.

But when Aaliyah was born in October, further health issues caused her to be placed on bed rest and prevented her from being able to care for Amon, an active toddler. “Amon deserved to run outside and play and be a happy, healthy 2-year- old,” Jennifer observed. She realized that she needed to reach out and call Bethany.

“Bethany Christian Services was wonderful. They were kind, caring, and patient. They took the time to explain the extensive background checks they had to perform on a candidate. They gave me thorough information about the host mother they had for Amon. It was like I already knew her before I walked in the room to meet her face-to-face.”

The next day, Jennifer met with her SFFC family coach and Kathy, the woman who would care for Amon for the next thirty days. “They made me feel comfortable. We had an hour to talk everything over and get paperwork signed, and I was able to watch Kathy interact with Amon.”

Reassured that she could get Amon back at any time and confident that Kathy would take excellent care of him, Jennifer watched them drive away.

Amon loved being in Kathy’s house. “Kathy had a crib and toys and everything together before he arrived,” Jennifer said. “We communicated daily about his adjustment, and I frequently spoke with Amon to tell him goodnight.”

A month later, with her health improved and Aaliyah a little older, Jennifer resumed care for Amon as well. Today, Jennifer and her children are doing beautifully.

“Fear can drive us from help,” Jennifer said, “but the staff at Bethany Christian Services makes the process so comfortable. You can sleep well knowing that your children are safe, loved, and wanted. These [host families] are people who out of the kindness of their hearts decided to help out. Thank you, Bethany Christian Services.”

Ways to Get Involved 

Can you open your home to a family going through a troubled time? Reach out with God’s love and compassion to embrace those who need help in your community. 

Be A Host Family

Safe Families Host Family Spotlight

Open your home to nurture a child in need as an alternative to foster care.

Be A Safe Family Friend

Safe Families Family Friend Spotlight

Volunteer your time and resources to further the Safe Families for Children cause. 

Be A Safe Family Church

Safe Families Church Spotlight

Integrate Safe Families for Children with your ministry and share SFFC with your congregation.