The goal of Safe Families for Children is to reunite children with their parent in a home that is more stable and healthy, in part, because of the contribution of Safe Families intervention. Currently, 85% of all families in the project come back together, often in the most stable environment they’ve ever known. If, however, the parent loses legal custody of their child(ren), we urge Host Families to contact an agency about the possibility of fostering or adopting.
The average length of stay is about six weeks, but placements usually last from two days to a year. The Safe Families team makes every effort at the time of placement to estimate the length of stay. Factors include the severity of the family’s crisis, the willingness and ability of the parent to address the issues involved in the crisis, among others.
These are normal children coming from sometimes very difficult circumstances. Each child will respond to the situation differently, depending on their personality and coping skills. Some may show little response to the circumstances in their lives, while others may be deeply affected. Please note that the children placed by Safe Families are not believed to be victims of abuse and neglect. If they were, they would instead have become wards of the state and not eligible for Safe Families for Children.
While the Safe Family for Children Project can provide placements for newborns through adolescents (0-18), there will be a concentration on the younger and most vulnerable children (ages 0-6).
Parents maintain full custody of their child, and are encouraged to participate in decisions regarding their child’s care while they address whatever issues led to the instability in their lives. Safe Families for Children’s aim is to facilitate a partnership relationship between volunteers and parent(s), in which the Host Family becomes a kind of “extended family” for the family in crisis. We encourage host families to maintain a relationship with the family even after the placement ends.
The children come from families that are experiencing a crisis of one sort or another. Such crises might include financial problems, unemployment and homelessness. In other cases, children come from families in which the parent needs time to heal physically or emotionally, or is recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction. Some children come from families in which the mother is being abused. Still other families are thrown into crisis when a parent is remanded to a correctional institution for a period of time. While these and other kinds of crises are traumatic, they also offer the opportunity for positive personal and familial transformations. Acceptance of the child into SFFC is based on whether a family is available to care for that child when placement is being requested. Some Host Families are able to accept sibling groups and parenting/pregnant teens.
Behavioral problems are possible, but not necessarily so. Trauma can influence a normally well-behaved child to behave poorly, and can influence a child with behavior problems to behave better. Some children may display behavioral problems as a result of the chaos in their lives, while others may astound us with their calm and composure. It’s impossible to predict how the child will behave.