By: Darren Washausen
One of the questions I often get is, “What are the tangible ways that I can serve?” My reply is that you can serve children and families by becoming a part of the Safe Families program. I have realized that this answer may be too general so I am going to explain some tangible roles of the Safe Families program.
Maybe you’re in a call network, sitting comfortably in your home when the phone rings from a local agency. The lady at the agency is staring at a young mother and her 18-month-old child as she speaks to you. Her boyfriend walked out on her and she has nowhere to go. The agency can help mom, but needs someone to care for her child for a while. Your role is to help connect her to a Safe Family.
Maybe dad and mom have hit hard times.
They are 1000 miles from relatives, but no one is in a position to take them in. They will lose their house if something doesn’t change and they, along with their two preschoolers, could soon be living out of their car. Fortunately, they have found Safe Families and we have located a family to care for the children. Your role is to arrange this meeting between the family in need and the Safe Family. Your heart warms seeing the relief of dad & mom knowing they can both focus on a job search while their children are safe.
Maybe mom becomes ill and needs to have surgery.
With nowhere to go, she reaches out to the state. The social worker visits to find a loving family who just needs help for a week. Safe Families is contacted and we have a place for the children. Your role is the Family Friend to care for mom. You gather some friends and provide some meals for her. Your husband and son mow the lawn and trim the yard. You help mom with reuniting with her children.
Finally, you can be the Safe Family. You can pour love into children who sense the stress their family is going through and provide comfort and safety to them in their time of need. The average stay is 42 days… 1 ½ months that can dramatically help the lives of a family.
These are real needs and real stories from right here in our community… tangible ways to serve. So, what is stopping you?
- Do you not understand why we need Safe Families when we already have foster care? – Safe Families is a compliment to foster care and not meant to replace it. Safe Families allows the state to focus their expertise on cases that need them the most.
- Are you afraid for the safety of your other children? 50% of the children in Safe Families are two years old and under.
- Are you worried about the time commitment? You specify your availability and we will find a place for you to serve.
- You feel unprepared to take action – Safe Families trains you for the position you serve in and OCA can equip & connect you.
- Maybe you feel the family is at fault for their position – many times, these families have been in a difficult position from the outset. Sometimes they make a mistake. Isn’t the Body of Christ to be gracious, forgiving, and supportive of others?
I hope that you have a better understanding of Safe Families. If you have questions, email or call us. I pray that you would wade into the water. You can’t learn to swim unless you get in the water. From your experiences, you can refine how you serve and make an impact.