Update: February is Our Month of Prayer (and here’s why we really need it)

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A few years ago someone asked me what my biggest questions was. What’s one of the biggest questions I pose to God? At the time it was, “God, do I need you?” I knew that I needed God in a meta-cosmic sort of way – keep the sun orbiting, help me not get into car crashes- that sort of thing. But I was in a place where I wasn’t necessarily convinced that I needed God to intervene in my day-to-day.

This Evelyn Christenson quote puts to words a thought I’ve been wrestling with: “We work, we pull, we struggle, and we plan until we’re utterly exhausted, but we have forgotten to plug into the source of power. And that source of power is prayer.”

Since I answered that question a couple years ago, I’ve had moments in my life where, without prayer, I pulled, struggled, and planned and got to the point of being exhausted. And I have a feeling that I’m not alone in this (and that I’ll get to that place again).DC127-0045

DC127 has a big vision. We believe God has called us, the churches and his people in Washington, DC, to care for, love, and support every child in foster care and the struggling families at-risk of being separated into care. We could pull, struggle, and plan our little hearts out (and we’ve definitely done that), but if we actually believe that we’re called to this, then we’re carrying out God’s vision. And if that’s true, then we won’t get far unless we admit our need for God and are in tune with how he is moving throughout DC.

We’re marking this February as a month of prayer for the DC127 network around the children in foster care and their families. Every Wednesday we’ll post a blog and send out an email guiding you to pray for different people and pieces involved in the child welfare system. We’ll pray for the young, single mom who is working so hard to keep her family together and feels like she has nowhere to go. We’ll pray for the teenager who has spent years in foster care and been in too many different homes, and we’ll pray he finds a family that he won’t ever leave. And we’ll pray for the system, for the social workers, the therapists, and all those who work in such a tough field every day.

Will you join us next month as we pray?

Brennan Manning wrote that “when we accept ownership of our powerlessness and helplessness, when we acknowledge that we are paupers at the door of God’s mercy, then God can make something beautiful out of us.” We’re powerless against making real change in DC for kids in care without Christ. We might be able to make a couple small changes, but I’m talking about real, long-term change where kids don’t wait to be in families and parents stop struggling alone. This is the kind of change I’m waiting for. By admitting and corporately acknowledging that we’re not going anywhere without God, I’m confident God will continue to make something beautiful through us.

I’m excited for February,

-Chelsea, DC127 Director

 

If you don’t get our newsletters, click here to sign-up and get reminders to pray each Wednesday.

10 Questions About Being A Family Friend, Answered

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You might have heard us talk about Family Friends, and when you hear that term, it might be a little confusing. Have no fear, this blog is here.

Family Friends have one main goal- build an intentional friendship with a parent experiencing a tough time, encourage them, and be a listening ear.

So, what does this look like exactly? Instead of us explaining it, we brought in one of our wonderful Family Friends, Robyn Brooks. Robyn was one of our first Family Friend’s and she took some time to tell us what she’s learned through this process.

First off, what is a Family Friend?

“A Family Friend does just what it sounds like- becomes a friend. The difference is you’re intentionally forming a friendship with a parent that may have no one else in their life they can rely on. So you become that person they can vent to, bounce ideas off of, or just talk about life with. Like any friendship, it takes time to build a relationship so you have to be consistent and in contact on a regular basis. It doesn’t always have to be in person though. You can also text or talking on the phone.”

What drew you to the Family Friend role?

What activities do you do with the parent you’re paired with?

“We have met at a park and let the kids play while we chat.  I went to my Family Friend’s child’s birthday party.  We’ve met up at church and had lunch afterwards.  The activity really isn’t as important as a listening ear.  I am a mother myself (although you don’t have to be a parent to be a Family Friend), and I have had, and continue to have, times as a parent where I am frustrated, confused, or not sure how to proceed.  For example, I wonder: How do you address disobedience in a firm, yet gentle manner with a child who is very sensitive and has a strong desire to please and is easily upset with perceived parental disappointment?

I bring up my parenting struggles because in that time of learning and adjusting to your child’s needs, the last thing I have desired is a lecture or an article to read.  I have needed a listening ear to talk to, to tell stories about my child, and help remember that parenting is a long-term game.  The biggest asset of the Family Friend role is the ability to be a sounding board and provide small nudges after the relationship is established.”

What does a typical month look like as a Family Friend?

“It varies and we are still finding our rhythm.  My relationship may be a bit atypical, in that the biological mother actually has her children full time, so our activities are planned with them in mind.  I call once per week or every other week.  I work full time and we have struggled to find a consistent phone chatting time.  We have had some success when I am able to call on my lunch break.  When the weather was warmer, we were able to meet in person once or twice per month at a park.”

What is the time commitment for a Family Friend?

“I usually make some contact with my parent, whether it be through text, phone call, or email, 3-4 times a month. Sometimes it’s as simple as texting that I’m thinking about her or that I hope she is doing well. I try to meet her in person once or twice a month. In the beginning, we met more in-person to get to know each other better and form a solid relationship. I also pray for her and her family on a regular basis.”  

Did you have a connection with the parent right away?

“Building a relationship takes time. Just because a parent has fallen on hard times doesn’t mean they are going to trust you right away- you have to earn it. My parent and I had a few similarities right from the start (we live close to each other, both have 2 young children, etc.) so we talked about that a lot at the beginning. What’s important is that I was open and honest and asked questions when I didn’t understand something. I also made a point to be consistent. Even if I didn’t hear back from her right away, I wanted to make sure she knew I really cared about her and that I wasn’t going to leave her.

One nice connection we have had is through the children.  At the conclusion of our first visit, we walked from the park to the parking garage, about 4 blocks.  Our daughters, who are very close in age, held hands the whole time. That was very sweet.”

Where do you go if you need help or have a question?

“First, I go to my Family Coach. He’s great about responding, but if I can’t get a hold of him I contact Safe Families staff.”

What’s the difference between a Family Friend and Family Coach?

“As a Family Friend, I form an intentional friendship with a biological parent. I talk with her regularly and give her a place to vent, ask questions, and talk through situations. Family Coaches also talk with parents, but they take a more formal role as they coordinate and talk about goals and progress. While Family Coaches work with everyone involved with a placement, Family Friends primarily focus on the parent.”

How much interaction do Family Friends have with the parent’s children?

“As a Family Friend, my main focus is on supporting the parent. Because we both have children, we often meet at a park so our children can play while we’re talking. My parent has also started coming to church with me so I see her whole family there.”

How has being a Family Friend impacted your relationship with God and your family?

“I have found this role fulfilling.  Having small children, it can sometimes feel like I don’t have much to give outside of keeping the household running.  Prioritizing being a Family Friend sometimes means saying no to preschool parties my kids are invited to or rearranging a weekend to be able to meet.  Doing that – reordering for the sake of being a Family Friend – reminds me that my life SHOULD look like that – reordered to love others as I would love myself.  Hearing the details of another’s life helps compassion grow and makes me ask God, “how else can I serve you?”

 

To become a Family Friend fill out a short application here. Then, you’ll attend a training session. You can find the next training session on our event calendar. Feel free to email Jessica at jessica@dc127.org with any questions.

Giving Day 2015: That time YOU hit it out of the park (and then some)

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Giving day thank you banner

To the DC127 network,

Thank you. This morning I’m overwhelmed by your generosity. Yesterday during Giving Day, we had a goal of raising $20,000 total through our matching campaign. As of this morning, we’ve raised $30,262.50. And we are so incredibly grateful.IMG_5235

You made this happen. Each of the 137 of you who gave to Giving Day, each of you who posted on facebook, tweeted, and emailed friends, each of you who give as monthly donors year around, and each of you who serve with DC127 in any capacity – you are the ones that made this happen. And you are building a movement in Washington, DC that refuses to let kids go without homes and families without support.

Thank you. 

I keep a mental record of specific moments where I know God moved. These are moments when something amazing and unexpected happened and I have no other way of understanding it, other than knowing that God was at work in a very real way. Our first Giving Day is now one of those moments. And if you’re reading this, I hope you see that, too. I hope you see that God is moving through churches and through his people for kids in foster care and struggling families.

Your generosity is certainly a measure of how God is moving in our city, but something else happened yesterday that served as a reminder of why we do any of this. One of our families has been struggling to end their court case. Because of Safe Families, their two children were able to come home from foster care, but the parent has still been working incredibly hard to close their family’s case with Child and Family Services. Well- yesterday morning a judge signed a piece of paper saying that the case is closed. Because of Safe Families, the government is no longer concerned about the wellbeing of the children, and they know this family has the support they need. Now this family knows their children are home permanently.

So again, thank you. Thank you for making stories like this possible. Thank you investing in DC127. Thank you for sharing our vision of city where every child has a home and every family gets the support they need. And thank you for being part of DC127.

We are so grateful for you,

Chelsea
DC127 Director

#GivingDay 2015: Can you spread the word for us?

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ANNOUNCEMENT: Because of a few very generous donors, all gifts made towards Giving Day will be matched dollar for dollar up to $10,000! 

Will you give towards Giving Day and ensure we match all $10,000?

Hey friends,

Giving Day 2015 is coming up on November 12th! (Are you excited? We are.)

Here’s the thing, someone at some point told you about DC127, and you agreed with our vision. Someone shared at your church, posted something online, or told you about this organization they were getting involved with, and you joined in. Our point? DC127 grows when people like you tell other people, and we’ve got a day coming up where we need you to share DC127 with someone else like you. Charli instagram pic

Will you tell your friends, your family, and your coworkers about DC127 and invite them to participate in Giving Day?

You might be surprised by their response.

Can I tell you a quick story? It’s about a single mom named Nicole. Nicole’s daughters entered foster care when Nicole was hospitalized unexpectedly. She had no one to care for her daughters while she was in the hospital, so she made the difficult decision to call Child Protective Services for help and her children entered foster care. When she got out of the hospital, she learned the unfortunate truth of how hard it is to get kids home from foster care. However, because a Safe Families Host Home and other volunteers stepped up, she was able to get her daughters back and now has support should an emergency happen again. She often talks about how grateful she is for her Safe Families team and has even started attending church with them.

Nicole’s story was possible because of people who invested in DC127 and ensured that when Nicole called, we could say yes.  We get calls almost every day from parents like Nicole, and we don’t have enough homes to say yes every time… yet. But we know we can get there.

By reaching out to your friends and family, you’re expanding our network and equipping us to reach churches, train volunteers, and support each person that opens their home. You’re making stories like Nicole’s possible for every family that calls us.

So, will you help us spread the word?

Here are three ways you can be a champion for us:

  1. Set a personal goal of an amount to raise, and then email ten people to share why you care about DC127 and ask them to give towards your goal. (When people give, they can leave your name in the comments and we’ll know they are connected to you). You can also copy “info@dc127.org” on your email.
  2. Post one Facebook post before November 12th and one on November 12th.
  3. Send 5 tweets with #GivingDay and why you care about DC127

Oh, and check it out. To make this easy on you, we’ve included sample emails, posts, and tweets (at the end of this blog).Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 11.34.18 AM

I know it can be scary to ask people to donate, but when you ask someone to donate, you’re giving them the opportunity to be part of God’s work in our city and in the lives of families like Nicole’s. These posts, emails, and tweets will mean more to your friends and family because of your courage in sending them.

If you have any questions at all, you can email us at info@dc127.org and we’ll get back to you right away. Please consider making Giving Day become a success by inviting your family and friends to join.

 And thank you. Thank you for being part of the DC127 team, and thank you for using your gifts, your skills, your network, and your time to grow this movement and to care for kids in foster care and families in crisis.

Seriously. Thank you!

-Chelsea
Director, DC127

P.S. Shaw’s Tavern is hosting a happy hour for us from 6-9pm on November 12th to celebrate. You should come (and invite all your friends)!


 

Click here to get pre-written emails to send to friends!

 

Facebook Posts

Today is @DC127’s Giving Day! When you donate, you build a bridge between families at-risk of being separated by foster care and the support they need. I’d be honored if as my friend, you invested in a movement I care so much about. http://dc127.org/2015-giving-day-november-12th-we-need-you/

Hey friends – I’m part of a movement in Washington, DC called @DC127. On November 12th, they are hosting their first Giving Day. Would you take a second and learn more about it? When you donate to DC127, you help build bridges between families in crisis and the support they need. Learn more and read about a mom named Jackie here: http://dc127.org/2015-giving-day-november-12th-we-need-you/

Tweets!

Post this Tweet: I’m part of #DC127 – would you read about their #GivingDay & invest in support for #DC families? @reversethelist http://ctt.ec/e0sbf+

Post this Tweet: I agree with @reversethelist – every child in #fostercare deserves a loving home. Will you join me? #GivingDay http://ctt.ec/nYE85+

Post this Tweet: #DC can be a city where no child waits for a family. Will you join me & @reversethelist to make this happen? #GivingDay http://ow.ly/Ufjms

Post this Tweet: You can build the bridge between a parent w/ no where to go & a community that will support them. #GivingDay @reversethelist http://ctt.ec/pFQee+

Post this Tweet: #GivingDay is coming up on Nov 12! You can do something for families & kids in #DC http://ctt.ec/2fk6l+

Post this Tweet: It’s here! @reversethelist ‘s #GivingDay-Donate NOW & build a bridge between #DC families & the support they need! http://ctt.ec/_l5pt+

What is a Family Coach Anyways?

Posted by | Blog, Mentoring, Safe Families for Children, Supporting Families, Uncategorized | No Comments

zac and savannah Dc127 picYou might have heard us talk about “Family Coaches” or maybe you haven’t. And when you hear the term “Family Coach” you might just be confused. Have no fear, this blog is here.

Family Coaches = awesome. Family Coaches are what make Safe Families a movement, and they make it possible for us to continually be serving new families and not put a cap on how many families our network can serve.

Family Coaches have three main goals:
1. Make sure the children are safe
2. Make sure Host Homes have the support they need
3. Make sure biological parents have the resources and support they need to move forward

So, what does this look like? What does the Family Coach role entail exactly? Instead of us explaining it, we brought in one of our star Family Coaches, Zac Murphy. Zac has been working with Safe Families in DC for about a year and he’d like to tell you a little about his role as a Family Coach and what he’s learned:

First off, what is a Family Coach?

“When a Host Homes cares for a child, they need support and help coordinating with the child’s parents. That’s where I come in. I visit the Host Home and children on a regular basis, ensure everyone is safe, and make sure the hosts have things like babysitters, clothing, bedding, etc. We talk about how they’re feeling and I update them on the children’s parent’s progress. I also work with biological parents to ensure they are moving forward and have access to needed resources.

Family Coaches keep track of all the moving pieces for a particular placement. Whether it’s someone to talk to or a tangible resource- communication is key and I make sure that’s happening. I report directly to Safe Families staff and can come to them with any questions or concerns.”

Why did you want to be a Family Coach?

Do you need a background in Social Work or Case Management to be a Family Coach?

“I’m a paramedic, so I’m used to working one-on-one with people in what can sometimes be stressful situations. That being said, I have no background social work or case management. The most important thing is that I like working with people, I’m organized, encouraging, and can rally people together. Many people with backgrounds in social service gravitate towards this role, but it’s certainly not a requirement. Family Coaches attend a training to prepare them for the role and they are supported by staff.”

How much time does each case take?

“I usually spend 1-3 hours a week working on stuff for Safe Families. I check in with my Host Home weekly, whether that be in-person or on the phone, and talk with the biological parent at least bi-weekly. Depending on the week, I may also spend time coordinating tasks such as arranging babysitters or transportation, finding resources, or attending a meeting with mom. I only work on one placement at a time, though.”

What tools and supports are provided to Family Coaches?

“I talk with Safe Families staff a lot. If I ever have a question or concern all I have to do is call or email and I get a response shortly after. I also have access to a huge database where I can look up resources all across the city. Before I started Coaching, I went through a day long training that prepared me for the role and gave me lots of resources to look back on.”

Who do Family Coaches have the most interaction with?

“As a Family Coach I get to interact with just about everyone. I talk with my Host Home weekly to make sure they have everything they need and I also get to interact with the children during my in-person visits. I talk with the placing parents bi-weekly during my check ins and sometime I interact with Resource Friends, if a family needs something. In addition, I speak with Family Friends to make sure they’re doing well. I also have more interaction with Safe Families staff then the other volunteers on my team.”

What does a typical week look like for you?

What’s the difference between a Family Coach and a Family Friend?

“Family Friends focus on being friends with the biological parent- they are really there just for the parents. They talk with them at least once a week and give parents a place to vent, ask questions, and talk through situations. Family Coaches also talk with parents, but it’s in a little bit more of a formal role since I coordinate the whole placement. While Family Coaches work with everyone involved with a placement, Family Friends primarily focus on the biological parent.”

How has being a Family Coach impacted you and your relationship with God?

“My time as a Family Coach has been very rewarding. I love how I get to see the families we serve progress forward over time and embrace community. It’s also great to witness the Host Homes living out biblical hospitality and loving on people in their neighborhoods.  God has been teaching me to put my assumptions aside and instead see people through His eyes, which has deepened my relationship with Him.”

 

Interested in being a Family Coach? Email us at volunteer@dc127.org today!

 

 

2015 Giving Day: November 12th – We need you!

Posted by | Blog, Foster Care and Adoption, Safe Families for Children, Supporting Families | No Comments

Giving day with match banner and asterisk

UPDATE: Because of a few very generous donors, all gifts made towards Giving Day will be matched dollar for dollar up to $10,000! 

Will you give towards Giving Day and ensure we match all $10,000?

 

Hey DC127 people,

We’ve got a big day coming up – a day where we absolutely, 100% need you: November 12th is our 2015 Giving Day.

Giving Day is one-day online campaign where we’re asking each of you to give what you can towards finding homes for children in foster care and supporting families in crisis.

I want to tell you a quick story about one of those families.

Jackie has two children, and Child and Family Services is worried that Jackie doesn’t have the support she needs to keep her kids safe. She loves her children, and just like any other mother, she wants the best for her son and daughter. As a single mom with two kids, she needs friends and a community to support her. When Jackie was referred to us, one of her biggest needs was a friend she could talk to. We believe this is what the church is good at. And this is what Giving Day on November 12th is all about.

zac and savannah Dc127 pic On November 12th, will you invest in DC127 and create the bridge between Jackie’s family and the church communities that can help her reach her dreams? (Sign up to get a personal reminder here)

These communities can care for Jackie’s kids so she has space, they can listen to Jackie like friends do, and if Jackie’s open to it, they can pray with Jackie. These are the connections you provide when you invest in DC127 on giving day. You’ll be equipping us to reach out to more churches, find more Host Homes, and recruit more people who are willing to walk with parents like Jackie and keep kids out of foster care.

When you give $28, you’re covering the training for the Host Home that will open their doors to Jackie’s kids. When you give $46, you’ve paid for the fliers and materials we need to present to one church and find volunteers to walk with Jackie like friends do.  And when you give $100, you’ve covered the entire intake process where our staff sits down with Jackie to listen to her story and understand her needs, and then connect her with the best volunteer team possible. Dc127 TDC volunteersWhen you give on November 12th, you’re helping create the vital connection between families like Jackie’s and the community she needs to succeed.

On November 12th, we need your support. We are asking you to donate because you share our vision that Washington, DC can be a place where every child has a home and families get the support they need to stay together. We are asking you to donate because you, like us, refuse to let parents like Jackie live in isolation.

Will you give on our November 12th Giving Day and create the bridge between families like Jackie’s and the communities in our churches that will help her thrive?

-Chelsea, DC127 Director

P.S. We’re also having a happy hour on November 12th to celebrate the work everyone in the DC127 movement has accomplished this year. Join us at Shaw’s Tavern from 6pm to 9pm! RSVP here!

 

Send me a reminder on Giving Day!

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Know a foster/adoptive parent? Learn how to support them

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RSVP Here

Foster care is beautiful. Adoption is beautiful. But foster care is tough. And adoption is tough.

For families who open their homes through foster care or adoption, it can often feel like the people in their closest community don’t understand what they are doing or why they are doing it. Opening your home can be a very isolating experience, and over 50% of foster families aren’t fostering one year after their first placement because it can be so lonely.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Churches can be places of support for these families, so the families can provide the best care possible to children, and children get the family and foundation they need to thrive. And this is what DC127 is all about.

We want to make your church and every church in DC a loving community for foster and adoptive home. On September 12th, we’re hosting a Parent Support Workshop, led by folks from Embrace Texas. This one-day workshop will equip church leaders, volunteers, and advocates with needed tools to support families in their community.

Lunch, childcare, and training materials are provided in your training registration fee (early bird is $20 for individuals, and $15 per person for teams of at least three).

We know this is will be an important and valuable day. We also know that our dream of a city where there are enough families for children can be a reality – but only when families have the support they need.

Join us on September 12th and be part of making Washington, DC a place where families get the support they need.

RSVP Here

Download the Flyer Here

We’re going for it.

Posted by | Blog, Safe Families for Children | No Comments

 146 measure filled in trying again FINAL

Last month, we celebrated DC127’s two-year anniversary and the amazing things we’ve accomplished as a network. With over 7 church partners, 20 in process or active homes through both foster care and Safe Families, and over 50 mentors, coordinators, and coaches dedicating time and energy to investing in the kids of our city, we get pretty giddy when we think about what’s to come.

A lot has happened in the past two years, but we’re not done. We want the city to know that the church is serious about being a leader in caring for children in foster care and children at risk of entering, so we’re pushing forward. We already have 15 Safe Families Host Homes in process, and are actively serving 3 families, and each of those situations directly prevented foster care. But here’s the thing, we’re getting calls every week about families who need the community support of Safe Families, and we’re not able to say yes to all of them because we don’t have enough space.

That’s why today we’re launching our 146 Campaign. Our goal is to have 46 Host Homes and 100 people in support roles in the next 146 days. And we have no doubt, that with prayer and your help, we as the Church can reach this goal and empower churches to be places of refuge for families in DC.

Will you join us over this next 146 days in prayer, support, and even getting involved yourself?

Here’s a breakdown of why we believe this is important:

  • Because we’re serious about bringing the church to the table: If we are serious about this, then like other agents of change, we need to set goals, pray specifically for them, and work hard to achieve them. When you set out to make change, you don’t passively wait for it to happen. You go for it.
  • Because we keep getting calls: DC127 is consistently getting calls for families in need, and we’ve had to turn away three families in the past two weeks because we didn’t have Host Homes. We want to be ready.
  • Because DC127 is in this for the long haul: Saying the word “campaign” may make you think of something short-term, but that’s not us. We’re doing this to get to a place where we can serve families for the long haul. 46 Host Homes doesn’t represent 46 one-day, band-aid solutions- 46 Host Homes represent over 46 relationships where communities and homes open their doors to families experiencing isolation and crisis.

146 measure option 2 FINAL

We already have 15 Host Homes in process, and 30 people stepping up in support roles, and we know that together we can reach this goal. But we need your help.

Here’s what you can do to make this happen:

1. Pray about being one of the 146:

Is God calling you to step out? There can be a lot of hesitations around being a Host Home- and we totally get that (here are some frequently asked questions about hosting). And if you can’t host, we need you in a support role. You could support by being a Family Coach, a Family Friend, or even by bringing meals, babysitting, or donating clothes and diapers. Having a community of support is what makes Safe Families unique and possible. Will you consider taking the next step? You can learn more here, and take next steps here. You can also check our calendar for our next info night and trainings, or contact a staff member to get more information now.

2. Connect us with your church:

DC127-0079If 9 churches recruit an average of 3 Host Homes, we’ll hit our goal. We can do this. Whether your church is already engaged, or if you want to be the first connection to your church- you can play a leading role in mobilizing your community to open its arms to a family in need. Will you help?

 

 

3. Invest in DC127 and our dream of mobilizing churches to support families in crisis:

foster the city-86It costs about $40 for one individual to go through the Host Home training, and $100 to train their support team. We keep all of our trainings free to volunteers, and also provide additional trainings throughout the year to better equip our homes. When you invest in DC127, you help ensure that each Host Home and volunteer is prepared to serve families well. Will you invest in DC127 today and help us provide the best support to our Host Homes?

 

And finally, will you pray with us? From the beginning, we’ve known that we’re not going to get far without relying on God to call the churches, the homes, the mentors, and the supports our city needs. And that hasn’t changed. Over these next 146 days, please pray with us. Pray that God would call individuals, families, and homes to open their doors. Pray that fears and concerns of volunteers would be put at ease. And finally, pray for the families that we are serving and will serve. Pray that in a difficult time, they would experience the love and support of a community.

We’re genuinely excited about the next 146 days. We’re excited because we’re envisioning November 8th (which is also Orphan Sunday) when we, as a collective Church, will celebrate how God has answered our prayers and how we’re able to say that we are ready for the families and kids of Washington, DC.

Will you join us?

Frequently asked questions: Being a Host Home

Posted by | Blog, Safe Families for Children | No Comments

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Being a Host Home is a powerful way to support and show love to families in times of crisis. Here are some of the most common questions we get when it comes to hosting. If you have a question we didn’t answer here, please contact us and we’ll be sure to get you an answer right away.

Why are families referred/use SFFC?
Parents come to Safe Families for many different reasons. Our biggest reasons for referrals in DC are medical instability, homelessness, and general lack of supports. For example, if a parent needs to be hospitalized but has no one to care for her/his children, they can reach out to Safe Families for support. The whole goal of Safe Families to is surround families who lack supports so they can get back on their feet and cope with difficult life situations.

What do I have to do before I can be a Host Home?
Every Host Home first fills out our standard volunteer paperwork and an application, and then complete a FBI Background and Child Protection Registry check. While we’re waiting for your CPR check to come back (it takes up to a month), you attend a 6-hour training where we cover the basics of hosting, how to care for a child who has been through a hard situation, and general child safety procedures. After your training, one of our staff members will come to your house to see your home and discuss your hosting preferences. We work hard to ensure every hosting is a good fit, both for the family we’re serving and for you. All forms and more detailed information can be found here.Safe Families video

Do I have to be married to host?
Nope! You can be married or single, live alone or have roommates. We ask people to think creatively about our hosting arrangements- you don’t always have to have an extra room, or stay at home during the day. We bring a network of volunteers around every host home to support you so you don’t feel alone throughout this process.

Do I have to have an extra room/bed to host?
You don’t have to have an extra room to host. For respite hosting (1-4 prearranged days a month) you don’t need an extra room or even a bed (we’ll find an air mattress). For longer placements, a child needs his/her own bed.

Can I work full time while hosting? Where do children go during the day?
You don’t have to be stay at home to host, in fact, most people don’t. Children either attend school during the day, or we work with centers to provide daycare. We can also help you develop a plan with our transportation team to assist with pick-ups and drop-offs.

How long do children stay with host families?
Nationally, the average stay is 45 days, however, we see multiple types of hosting arrangements. Sometimes a family is just looking for respite care, which is 1-4 prearranged days a month so that they can get a break and take care of other areas that need their attention. Other times, families need a Host Home for a few weeks or months. The length of stay depends on the family’s goals and how long it may take to achieve them. We always contact host families prior to the placement and explain the situation them to see if they are comfortable and able to host a child at that time. We give families as much information as possible (including estimated length of stay) before they commit to hosting.

How do children get to/from school or daycare?
It is the Host Home’s responsibility to care of the child’s needs while they are staying in their home, and this includes attending school. We try to place children with families close to where their school is, but sometimes that’s not possible. That’s why we have a team of volunteers willing to help provide transportation to and from school to give the host families a break, when needed.

What happens legally while I host the children?
Biological parents retain all their legal rights during the hosting arrangement- that’s part of what makes Safe Families so great. However, Host Homes are also given short-term legal guardianship and medical waivers so they can care for children in the case of an emergency. We have all the legal forms to protect families and children from harm.DC127_Foster_Adopt_Parents

What happens if I have an overnight trip scheduled? Or a vacation?
Everyone has things planned and we certainly don’t want you to rework your entire schedule in order to host. There are a few different options that primarily depend on your comfort level and the nature of your trip. If you and the children’s parents are willing, you are able to take host children on vacations and trips. If this isn’t something you’re able to do, we have secondary Host Homes that can assist you while you are away. They can host children until you return from your trip. We also record all pre-planned vacations that you may have in order to plan and work around them as much as possible.

Who can babysit?
You can provide your own babysitter or use ones that we already have. All of our babysitters do get a background check through an instant system. We can also use other background checks if they have done one in the past (i.e. work at a school, volunteer with a children’s ministry). If you know of friends or family members who would like to babysit, we are happy to background check up to 3 of them for free. After that it’s $15.00 per babysitter for the background check. Again, if you don’t know people who could babysit, we have a list of awesome people who are willing to help out in times of need.

Can I take the children I host to church?
We work to respect all religious preferences of the families we serve. When we explain Safe Families, we’re sure to explain that we recruit through churches and we ask the parents if they are comfortable with this and with their child attending church. We expect Host Homes to honor the preference and requests of parents, but do not frequently have situations where parents are uncomfortable with children attending church.

Can I request to host within a certain age range?
Yes- in fact, this is something we ask you about when we visit your home. We want the best hosting arrangement for both the child and you, and so it’s important to us that you feel comfortable. We also provide training, so if you’re uncomfortable with a certain age range because you don’t know how to care for a young child or a teen, we’re happy to teach you.

Do I have to be able to take more than one child?
We work really hard to keep siblings together, so if you can host more than one child at a time, please do. However, we have plenty of situations where being able to take one child is incredibly needed. Being able to host more than one child is not required.photo (65)

What about costs related to hosting? Is there a stipend?
All of our Host Homes are done on a purely volunteer basis, but we work very hard to provide a lot of support so that you’re never alone. We have supplies and clothes on hand so that when your hosting starts, we can help set you up. In the past we’ve also had volunteers bring meals at the beginning and throughout placements, donate gift cards for date nights, babysit for free, and donate services like hair care. You can also always be honest to your Family Coach about what support you need, and we’ll do our best to find it.

Who do I talk to if I have a problem while I’m hosting?
Each Host Home is assigned a Family Coach, and the Family Coach is there to make sure that you have the support you need, that the children remain safe, and that the children’s parents have what they need to move forward. Your Family Coach will check in with you on a regular basis, and we work hard to match Coaches and Host Homes who attend the same church.

We hope we answered your questions, but in case you still have some more or just want to talk to one of our staff about being a Host Home, you can contact us here.

And if you’re interested in taking the next step in hosting, click here for more details!

Arms Wide Open

Posted by | Safe Families for Children | No Comments

For as long as I can remember, I have been the girl who asks, “May I hold your baby?” Frequently, even when I was hardly more than a baby myself, parents have answered, “Yes.”

Not surprisingly, I grew up to be a nanny. When you meet me, you will very quickly realize that I still harbor a bit (okay a lot) of a child in me. Hanging out with kids helps me stay in touch with that light-hearted and freewheeling approach to life that young children carry with them. Over the years, “hanging out with kids” has become much more than just a babysitting job for me.

Through the national initiative Safe Families for Children, I can play a part in supporting and strengthening families in DC. Everyone can have a role in Safe Families. Whether you are single like me, or not, live in a studio apartment or a group house, have 10 hours or 10 minutes, you can be a part of extending God’s love to families living in isolation here in DC.

I know first-hand how debilitating a sense of isolation can be; I have struggled with clinical depression for many years. The support, encouragement and accountability from my God-given community of family and friends are all integral to my mental health. My experience with depression has given me sensitivity to the need for authenticity and community – a safe place to be known. I have a growing vision and passion for extending the arms of the (capital C) Church community to envelop families in our neighborhoods. Practically speaking, that might include coaching parents, mentoring children, babysitting, providing meals, moving furniture, or even temporarily hosting children in your home when the need arises.

What if no one were asking to hold your baby? What if you were living in virtual isolation, without family or friends to call for help when you hit rock bottom, or when everyday life suddenly flares into major crisis?

I dream of a day when no baby lacks for safe arms to hold her, and when no child lacks encouragement to be the very best he can be. I dream of a day when EVERY family receives an overflowing abundance of love, acceptance, and support from the Church. Together, let’s extend our arms, wide open, to share the love God has showered on us.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” – James 1:27 (NLT)

 

Learn more about how you can open your arms to a family experiencing crisis here.

 

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About the author: Kathryn Parent attends National Community Church (Georgetown location) and is new to the DC127 community of volunteers. A transplant from the Inland Northwest (Idaho), Kathryn enjoys reading, hiking, bicycling, and cooking. After graduate studies in chemistry and six years working in the field of chemical education, God resurrected her dream of being a stay-at-home-mom, though she is neither a mother (just a Parent), nor does she stay at home (just at other people’s homes).

 

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