How long does a child usually stay with a host family?
The average length of stay is about six weeks, but hostings can last from two days to a year. The Safe Families team makes every effort at the time of the hosting to estimate the length of stay.
What is the background of the children placed in a Safe Family?
These are typical 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 victims of abuse and neglect. If we find out about any sort of abuse or neglect then Children & Family Services will be contacted, as we are mandated reporters.
What ages of children does the Safe Families outreach serve?
While the Safe Family for Children movement can provide a hosting for newborns through adolescents (0-18), there will be a concentration on the younger and most vulnerable children (ages 0-6). Nationally, the average age of a child hosted is 4 years old.
Does a parent lose custody when they use SFNC?
No. Safe Families for Children is a completely voluntary program where the biological parents retain full legal custody during the hosting.
What type of contact will the host family have with the biological parent?
Biological 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. Our aim is to facilitate a partnership relationship between volunteers and the biological 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, if possible.
What type of situations do the children come from?
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 experiencing domestic violence. 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 host family is available to care for that child when hosting is being requested. Some Host Families are able to accept sibling groups and parenting/pregnant teens.
Will a child in the Safe Families movement typically have a lot of behavior problems?
Possibly, but not necessarily. 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. If a child does have behavioral issue your Family Coach, along with the staff at Safe Families for Children, will walk alongside the host family for support and to develop strategies that will help make this child’s transition into one of our SFFC homes as smooth as possible.
How much do host families get paid to care for children in their home?
Nothing. This is a completely voluntary program and host families are not financially reimbursed for any child that they host. Because SFFC is implemented through the church, many other people from the congregation will support the host family while they care for the host child by providing meals, gift cards, and any other assistance that they may need.
How do families in crisis find out about Safe Families for Children?
Staff at Safe Families for Children are actively informing other community agencies, such as hospitals, social services, homeless shelters, food pantries and others that interface with families in crisis about the movement of SFFC. Because the services of SFFC are so unique, most agencies are excited to be able to inform the families that they work with about our services and collaborate with us to support them as they work towards becoming more stable.
How are host families screened and approved?
While approved Host Families serve voluntarily, they each go through a rigorous screening process. We follow all the best practices that mirror what the state of California would require one of their foster families to complete in order to be approved. This approval process includes filling out various application forms, having background checks performed via Live Scan, a professional social worker going to each prospective Host Family’s home and performing a home assessment and interview and multiple reference forms are confidentially sent into the SFFC office.
Can the host family adopt the child?
The goal of the Safe Families for Children movement is to reunite children with their biological parent in a home that is more stable and healthy, in part, because of the contribution of the 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 biological parent loses legal custody of their child(ren), we urge host families to contact an agency other than Safe Families about the appropriate next steps.