Recently, Matt and I started volunteering as a host family for an amazing program called Safe Families.
If you haven’t heard of it, Safe Families helps families in crisis by having volunteers host vulnerable children and support the parents so they can get back on their feet.
As a host family, Matt and I have been providing short-term respite care for these vulnerable kiddos. The parents may be going through a medical crisis, struggling with homelessness, or working through mental illness and need some extra support – especially having someone to watch the kids while they work through their situation.
When we first signed up to volunteer, I wanted to make a difference in vulnerable children’s lives. But in reality, they’ve been changing mine.
The experience has been transformative – healing in some ways, definitely hard at times, but rewarding and so worth it.
As I’ve shared some of my journey, I’ve also gotten a lot of questions from you guys about this program and what it looks like to volunteer for them.
So in this episode of SHE, I want to share with you what Safe Families does, how we heard about them, and a little bit about what our experience has been like. Plus, I‘m going to answer all the questions I’ve received from you!
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FOSTER CARE AND SAFE FAMILIES
The number one question I’m asked is “What is the difference between Safe Families and foster care?”
In foster care, the courts will place children in a foster home when the parents can’t take care of them or if the kids are in a harmful situation.
Foster families are given a stipend from the state and the children can potentially be with them for long periods of time.
With Safe Families, however, the goal is to step in earlier and support the family during a crisis to prevent the children from entering the foster care system in the first place. The parents voluntarily join the program, rather than being mandated by the courts.
Often these families are experiencing a medical crisis or facing homelessness and don’t have the support network they need to get through it.
The children usually stay with the host family for a shorter period of time, with the average stay being around a month long.
Also, host families who volunteer for Safe Families do not receive a stipend. Expenses come out of your own pocket. (But, as I talk about in the podcast episode, you can get a lot of supplies donated from Safe Families, your church, or family and friends).
If you’re interested in learning more about this program and what it looks like to be a host family for children in need, or if you’re just curious about how this experience has impacted Matt and me, make sure you tune in for this Q & A.
- What led us to get involved with Safe Families
- How Safe Families differs from foster care
- Our experience hosting children
- The who, what, where, when, how, and why of volunteering with Safe Families
And let us know in the comments: are you familiar with this program? Is this the type of program you would volunteer for?