By: Chesson Hazlewood
“It’s not okay, it’s not how a normal household runs,” LMPD spokesperson Dwight Mitchell said in a report of a parent allegedly leaving her children home alone during this summer’s heat.
I don’t know about you but hearing reports like these calls my heart to action. I think, “there has to be a way to not only help those innocent children, but also, the young mother dealing with more than she can handle alone.“
It seems as though we hear more and more about our youth being left alone or families in crises situations all around our city. Instead of wondering how you can help or what our world is coming to, come and walk with OCA Safe Families for Children.
As the local Safe Families for Children Coordinator, I receive weekly calls about families in crisis, in need of a support network. But I cannot provide a home for all those in need. Here is how you could help our community – become a host family, commit to taking in a child for 2 weeks and allow the Lord to open your heart for the children in our city. Different than foster care, when you become part of the Safe Family network, you are caring for children on a short-term basis, not an extended period of time, in most cases.
When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:13
I use this verse for inspiration and a reminder of the biblical call of hospitality. When God’s people are in need, we must be ready and willing to help them, always eager to practice hospitality. When Christians follow this biblical call to help our fellow neighbors, we are not only shining Christ’s light and receiving the blessing of caring for children. We give struggling parents a chance to get back on their feet before the crisis leads to abuse and neglect of their children.
Safe Families case-coaches hear about families in crisis from a variety of referral sources, including schools, hospitals, other organizations, and churches.
Once the family gets approved and a placement has been made, they will have a team of volunteers to walk along this journey of success with them. We will assign a case coach to help build a lasting relationship between the biological and host families during a placement. The children and their parents are able to communicate and be involved in one another’s lives.
Here at OCA, our staff works quickly to contact an available volunteer family and share the situation with them. Volunteers agree to the placement at their own discretion, and can put a time limit on their involvement. Volunteers are screened and approved through background checks, home studies and online training.
As a host family, the primary focus is on the wellbeing of the children in care. They will also be matched with what we call a “family friend;” this role is very important and the main focus is to stand alongside the family in crisis, offer wisdom and guidance, or help the family find the community resources they need to succeed.
These are just a few of the ways to get involved; if you would like more information, please check out Safe Families for Children on our website.
We can’t do this alone. Our city is in need and as the body of Christ, we need to step up and walk beside these families and show God’s love and compassion to them. Let’s raise a generation who knows His love and the meaning of true hospitality.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35