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.
Bethany Christian Services mission is to protect and enhance the lives of vulnerable children and families. Safe Families for Children is an innovative approach that can accomplish this mission. Because of this, Bethany Christian Services partnered with the Safe Families for Children program after being approached by its founder, Dr. David Anderson of Lydia Home Association in Chicago. Dr. Anderson approached Bethany due to our size and scope as an organization with a solid reputation in social services across the USA and globe.
How this program is different than 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.
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 reunite with their children quickly and safely. Parents may have their children live with a host family because of any number of challenges such as:
Our experience hosting a 17-year-old mom, Nesha, and her 2-year-old son, Elijah, was unlike anything we'd ever done before. It was also the most challenging, yet rewarding experience of our lives.
At the age of 14, Nesha became pregnant and as a result she dropped out of high school. When she turned 16, she found herself homeless and raising Elijah without family support. It was during this time that she connected with a mentorship program that provided her positivity and encouraged her to complete her GED. Nesha was determined to be a great mother to her son and was awarded her GED in a matter of months. It was also through the mentorship program that she learned about Safe Families for Children and ultimately brought us into each other's lives. We were so impressed by all she had accomplished, as well as her strength to pursue a better life.
The first couple days required a lot of communication. We encouraged Nesha to be proactive in finding employment. I also learned quickly that in order to have a healthy relationship with this young mom, I needed to establish healthy boundaries. It took some time for Nesha to realize our willingness to help did, in fact, come from a loving place and that the more people that loved her and Elijah, the better.
Over the next couple months, we watched Nesha open up more and saw a complete transformation in her character. We became very close, and when she finally established an apartment to live in she asked if Elijah could continue to stay with us while she worked and saved money. We agreed, and for four more months Elijah remained with us. We continued to get to know and love him; he was not the same kid that first came to us. He was polite and gentle. He would ask for help, instead of just screaming. It was so incredible for us to see him transform into such a wonderful child, and her into an amazing, contributing young lady and an active and attentive mother.
To this day, we still have a very close relationship with Nesha and Elijah. They are family to us and have forever changed our hearts and our lives. What God has revealed to us through them has caused us to be more active with SFFC and in our surrounding communities. As it is written in Scripture, "Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed" (Psam 82:3 NIV), and "Look after orphans and widows in their distress" (James 1:27 NIV). In hindsight, we were in pursuit of blessing others, but in contrast received a very special blessing of our own that has changed us forever...for the better. Praise Jesus!
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.
Open your home to nurture a child in need as an alternative to foster care.