Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What type of situations do the children come from?

    The children come from families that are experiencing a crisis of one sort or another. These 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 Safe Families is based on whether a family is available to care for that child when hosting is being requested. Some Safe Families are able to accept sibling groups and parenting/pregnant teens.

  2. What ages of children does the Safe Families outreach serve?

    While Safe Families can provide hostings for newborns through adolescents (0-18), there will be a concentration on the younger and most vulnerable children (ages 0-6).

  3. How long does a child usually stay with a Host Family?

    The average length of stay is about six weeks, but hostings usually last from two days to a year. The Safe Families team makes every effort at the time of hosting to estimate the length of stay. Factors include the severity of the family’s crisis, the willingness and ability of the biological parent to address the issues involved in the crisis, among others.

  4. What is the background of the children hosted by a Safe Family?

    These are children sometimes coming from 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 hosted by Safe Families are not believed to be victims of abuse and neglect.

  5. Will a child 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. It’s impossible to predict how the child will behave.

  6. 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 hosting ends, if possible.

  7. Can the host family adopt the child?

    The goal of the Safe Families is to reunite children with their biological parent in a home that is more stable and healthy. Currently, 92% of all families in Safe Families are reunited, 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 about the possibility of fostering or adopting.

  8. What if the needed stay is longer than what the host committed to?

    In this case, if the current Host Family is unable to extend the hosting, the biological parent will have the option of taking the child back themselves or requesting a new Host Family.

  9. May a prospective Host Family specify age, language, length of stay and distance from the parents' home?

    Yes. Once a Host Family has been screened and the home certified their name will be added to a database which will specify the age, language, length of stay and other preference of the Host Family.

  10. Will Host Families and volunteer Family Coaches be trained?

    Yes. Training will be provided for all those who participate in Safe Families.

  11. What type of support will the Host Family receive?

    Safe Families Churches recruit volunteer Family Coaches, Family Friends and Resource Friends that can be accessed by a Host Family as needed.

  12. What if my church is too small to be supportive?

    We will attempt to connect you with a church or community service that has agreed to support other churches in their region.

  13. Will Host Families be allowed to make schooling and medical decisions?

    Yes. Host Families will be provided with authorization to make educational and medical decisions, however we encourage this to be a joint decision between the biological parent(s) and the Host Family.