Safe Families for Children

Because where we find our strength matters.

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On September 29th, the DC127 network came together again to celebrate, worship, and pray. We’ve done this every year since we launched and it’s become an important rhythm to remind ourselves to stay rooted in Christ as this network’s foundation. We did something a little different this year. Instead of focusing on big numbers or finding more volunteers and families, we took some time to narrow in our network and take a second to breathe.

We asked an important question of our network: What is our fuel?

What keeps us going? I think this is an important question that often gets overlooked when we’re working in nonprofits or ministry. We things get hard or it seems like there is no hope, what keeps us committed to the love and service we’re called to? What sustains us?

I think this is important to understand for two reasons:

  1.  What’s flowing in affects our beings: Think about physical health. If you just ate bacon exclusively for every meal, you’d probably feel the effects and your body would work as well as it can. Bacon is great, but bacon isn’t going to give us all the vitamins we need (no matter what I tell myself). The same thing goes for the rest of our lives. The things that keep us going, give us energy and rest – those things are going to affect our very beings and our souls. What we rely on as a source of strength matters for our health.
  2. The input affects the output: What we rely on to keep serving, working, and loving our communities, is going to affect how we’re able to serve and love them. I was once training for a long bike ride, but I kept getting tired really early into the rides. My dad, who was the one dragging me onto the bike, finally saw me eat my regular breakfast – a bowl of oatmeal. He made me wake up earlier and eat more and pay attention to what sort of things I was eating. See, while my oatmeal can get me to lunch on a normal day, what I was putting into my body wasn’t enough to accomplish what I was trying to do. What we’re taking in affects what we’re able to put out.


This is often framed as soul care. If we believe we’re called by God to serve and love, and if our souls are the piece of us most connected to the Divine, then keeping that connection healthy will affect the way we are able to love the world around us.

So, what sustains us? I had a friend in college who meditated on different symbols focus, health, strength, love, etc. She told me about how the focus of her meditation was to find more of these qualities in herself. She had the focus or strength she needed, she just needed to find it within herself. We certainly have a lot to learn from other traditions, including this practice, but I think this idea is a pervasive one and I think it falls short. Foundational to the Christian beliefs are that we don’t have everything we need to live the way God has asked us to live. We’re asked to constantly admit our own lack of ability and to trust God. If we just rely on what we already have – our passion, energy, love, whatever it is – we’re going to run dry when things get hard.

We do not have what it takes to love God and love our world within ourselves. Our attention to the care of our souls is our attention to the connection and relationship we have with the Divine – who is where we find the strength, passion, energy, and love we need to do what is asked of us, and only what is asked of us.

The second part of this piece is that our fuel, where we find our strength, affects what we’re able to do and how we’re able to do it. If we find our fuel in whatever we can dig up from within ourselves, we’re probably going to be really careful with how we use those resources, which makes sense. When it comes to our time, emotional energy, and tangible resources – if these can run dry, then we have to protect them.

If you have finite resources (money, time, emotional energy) and you don’t know that you’ll be renewed, you’ll operate out of scarcity and run the risk of being too occupied with the result of your service and in turn hoard your resources. We risk finding our strength in feelings of accomplishment and when those don’t come, we pull back. If we think we’re running out of resources, we’re never going to be able to serve with the selfless, sacrificial love God requires.

However, if we find our strength and our fuel for everything in God, who is infinite, the game begins to change. Suddenly, our lives and the work we do are tapped into the never-ending flow and love that is the Creator of the Universe.

When we serve out of the love we receive from God, we don’t love others because it makes us feel good, because they thank us, because they are nice to us, or because they accomplished everything we wanted for them, we don’t need that. That doesn’t keep us going. When we serve out of God’s strength, our reason for showing up is because God asked us to be there and we are able to walk knowing that God will figure the rest out.

So when this gets hard and you wake up to love a child who shows the same difficult behaviors each day, or you’re walking with someone and they lie to you because that’s the only way they’ve known how to get what they need to care for their family, or you’re caring for someone and things just don’t seem to move forward and all of you are frustrated, you can keep going. You’ll feel on the brink of empty, but you won’t be. You did what you were asked to do- you showed up. You can walk in that space and give one hundred percent and know that in Christ you will be refueled. You’ll be tired, but you know that you won’t be empty.


Inherent in all of this is the idea that we are limited. We need the source of love and strength that is Christ because we are limited. And my good friend Matthew Watson reminded me of this recently, and I’d like to read something he sent me:

“We can’t do it all. Not because we’re sinful or weak, but because God loves us. We can’t ‘fix’ much, and certainly not people. Not because I’m sinful or weak, but because God loves us.I can’t work endless hours, love endless numbers of people endlessly, I can’t send endless emails or make endless meals. Not because I’m sinful, but because I’m limited. And those limitations are a grace that remind me that God is bigger and fuller than I am and He’s the one who makes up the difference between my limitations and what needs to be done…. all who need to be loved, the meals that need to be made, the lists that need to be reversed.

Being limited isn’t bad; it’s an opportunity to look back to and trust God.

I’m not saying “do more” or “say yes every time DC127 or CFSA calls you.” Part of deepening our connection and relationship with God means that we each know where God is asking us to step and then when we step there and we commit to that space. And then rest knowing that even when you give of yourself, it won’t be enough for the situation, but that was never asked of you. You will never be enough for all the needs of any child, parent, family, or city. Let that be a breath of relief. God didn’t ask you to be enough, you were just asked to show up. 

My ask of you this year, and please hold us as staff and as an organization to this as well, is to care for your souls. Remember that you are limited and that you need not only direction from God around what is yours to step into, but also the love that only God can give. Because if we’re each stepping into the spaces God has called us to step, and each loving in those spaces with a love God has given us, then together we’ll make it.

As a network, we’re trying to grow wide, but if we’re not also growing deep and ensuring that we are resting in and relying on Christ, the only infinite source of strength there is, we’re never going to accomplish our vision, and the kids and families of our city deserve that vision.

Month of Prayer, Week 4: Praying for Social Workers

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This month we’ve been taking time to pray for different pieces of the child welfare system. Thank you again to Megan Roberts who has volunteered to write these and lead us this month!

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
Isaiah 1:17

Social workers are those professionals that help facilitate and advocate for the welfare of the vulnerable. DC127 regularly interacts with social workers who refer families to Safe Families, who help facilitate our families’ interactions with public services and welfare, and who advocate for and partner with us on an ongoing basis. Social workers also serve foster families and ensure they have what they need to care for the children in their home. Social workers are the glue that keeps the child welfare system together.

As we work alongside social workers in the DC region, we ask that you partner with us in praying for these professionals in the following ways:

  • That God would call more people to the field of social work, and equip them with the professional and relational resources to make impactful change in their communities
  • That God would prevent burnout in existing social workers, specifically for DC Child and Family Services Agency workers and DC social workers at various agencies, providing them with life-giving activities outside of work and healthy work-life balances
  • That God would bless social workers’ interactions with their clients and government officials, that the needs of their clients would be met in God-glorifying ways

Interested in learning more about how the church can work with and serve social workers?

And then check out these videos:

 

Month of Prayer, Week 3: Keeping Families Together

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“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” – Revelation 21:4

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” – Ephesians 3:14-16

Keeping Families Together 

God created the family in His image, and what hurts the family hurts God. From Genesis to Revelation, we see the ways that God designed the family to be a place of human flourishing.

Unfortunately, there are serious obstacles facing the unity of families today. Poverty and hunger make it difficult for many parents to adequately care for their children, and over 17,000 DC families accepted TANF assistance in 2014. This and other factors drive up the number of children in group homes – situations that can cost up to ten times more to raise each child in then it would cost to raise them in a single-family home.

Despite these challenges, God offers hope. In Revelation, He tells John that He is preparing a kingdom where all things will be made new – a kingdom unaffected by poverty, hunger, sickness, or death. A kingdom formed of one, insoluble, family.

This week, will you join us in praying:

  • That we – the church in DC – would be able to help prevent the breakup of families by foster care, and shine a beam of that perfect kingdom into a very broken world.
  • That parents struggling to care for their children would have access the resources needed to keep their children happy and healthy, and their families together.
  • That there will be an increase in affordable housing in the District, and that the thousands of families struggling to pay rent or find a safe place to live will get the help they need. Pray also for protection and an increase in the valuable benefits DC families need to survive.
  • That more volunteers will step up to care for struggling families. Pray for more Host Homes to temporarily care for children to give parents space to strengthen their families, and for an increase in other Safe Families volunteer roles so that parents get the help they need.
  • That marriages in impoverished communities would strengthen, that husbands and wives would care for each other, and that both would care for the children in their charge.
  • That single parents in the District will get be connected to a supportive community. Pray especially for single parents who are living in poverty and struggling to care for their children and strengthen their family alone.
  • That children put into foster care would be able to be reunited with their families. Pray that while children are in care they would be able to maintain a connection with their parents and families. Pray for foster parents to know how to support and strengthen those bonds.

Thank you for praying with us!

Interested in finding more ways of helping your city?

Here are resources to help you get more involved:

Watch a 4-minute story from a foster dad on how God taught him the importance of loving a child’s biological family.

And here’s a 7-minute video from the Executive Director the national Safe Families for Children network on why prevention work is so important.

Thank you Megan Roberts for her help on this blog!

Month of Prayer, Week 1: Praying for our City

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DC127 is a movement of churches that believes God has called us to care for children in foster care and children at-risk of entering care. We also believe that we won’t be able to do any of this unless we rely on God.

Like last year, we’re going to mark the month of February as a month of prayer. We’ll be posting blogs each Wednesday that cover a different topic and invite you to pray with us for our city, kids in or at-risk of foster care, their families and the families who care for them, and for churches to respond in love and action. You can sign up here to get a reminder when the blog is posted. We also want to thank our amazing Church Coordinator, Megan Roberts, for writing these posts.

Praying for our City

“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

1,500 children are at risk of entering foster care and receiving in-home services in Washington, DC. Around 1,000 children are currently in foster care. Nationally, over 415,000 children are in foster care, and over 110,000 of those children are waiting to be adopted.

The numbers are staggering. These statistics paint a dire picture for the most vulnerable in our city- those children at risk of losing a family, those mothers raising children by themselves in precarious circumstances.  As Christians, we are called to look after the vulnerable and keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. We live in a fallen world with broken cities where families are separated or unable able to provide for their needs. While we live in a fallen world, we know we are called to a higher purpose: to follow a God that is merciful and just who cares for the vulnerable and calls us to follow Him.

This week, will you pray with us for:

  • Believers in our city and around the world: Pray we will look after those who are vulnerable and advocate for the marginalized in our cities.
  •  Those who are in distress in Washington, DC: There are 1,491 homeless families in DC, and many more living in poverty and crisis. Pray God would comfort each of them and provide relief. Pray that our city’s leaders will represent them and affect change on their behalf. Pray for an increase in jobs and resources available to these families to help them stabilize their families.
  • The professionals who serve in social services in DC: Serving in social services can mean long, hard and emotional days. Pray that these workers will get rest and relief, and pray that the organizations and systems they work in will operate to the benefit of the vulnerable in our city.
  •  Churches: Pray churches would be a light in a broken world and at the forefront of caring for those in need. Pray for increased partnership between churches and city agencies. Pray that social workers can come to rely on churches to care for those in need and to help them as they serve our city.

Thank you for praying with us!

Interested in finding more ways of helping your city?

Here are resources to help you get more involved:

 

Hear our keynote speaker from One City. One Hope. 2014 cast a vision for what could happen in Washington, D.C. when the churches unite:

 

Hear from Dr. Sharen Ford on why the government needs the church to cross the aisle, learn about child welfare system, and serve children in foster care:

 

What Happened To You? A Lesson In Trauma Informed Care

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By Amanda Coquyt, DC127 Fellow and MSW Candidate

DC127 is hosting a Trauma Informed Care Training on October 6th. This blog explains why trainings like this are so important for volunteers that work with families who may have experienced trauma. Learn more and RSVP for the training here

When I started as a social worker in the foster care system in 2008, I thought I was going to change the world. I had dreams of connecting with children and families, fixing all of their problems, and knowing what an impact I had on their future as I left them to live happily ever after. Did I mention I had zero experience with the foster system before I got my social work degree? It’s also worth noting that I had led a pretty great life overall. Trauma was a foreign concept that we skimmed over during my brief training to become a case manager. But, I quickly learned that trauma impacts a person from infancy throughout their adult lives. Not only does trauma impact individuals emotionally, but it also impacts behaviors, personalities, and relationships.

Fast forward to 2009. I was a seasoned case manager by that point (it doesn’t take long!) and had one incredibly challenging 16-year-old teenager on my caseload, Melissa. She was confident, intelligent, and outgoing. She was also manipulative, sneaky, and struggling with addiction and depression. While we didn’t start out on the best of terms, Melissa came around and we had a decent rapport. And then she ran away. And then she ran away again. And again. No matter where we placed her, Melissa ran. One day she called and told me she was ready to stay put, but she needed to pick up her things from the location she had been squatting at while on the run. I was so excited! I had finally gotten through!

So, I picked her up and left her at her new foster home with the expectation we would see each other the following week, and I headed home filled with pride at how I had been able to get her to stay put. Sure enough, about 15 minutes after I left I got a phone call from Melissa’s new home- she had run away again, taking all of her belongings with her. I was stunned. How could that happen? I had just done everything Melissa asked, and even stopped at McDonald’s to get her a chicken sandwich! I had been kind and helpful. What more could she want?
That’s when I learned perhaps one of the most important lessons about BC1C7B577Churt children. Melissa didn’t do this to damage my pride or waste my time.
She told me she would stay so I would come pick her up from a situation she no longer wanted to be in. She told me she would stay with the condition that her belongings be picked up so I would fit everything into my beat up little car and get her dinner. She did what she had to do to survive. We all cope the best way we know how, and Melissa’s traumatic past had taught her that sometimes you have to manipulate people to get by.

Melissa had been in care since she was 5 years old and was separated from her only sibling. Melissa’s parents had been in and out of her life. Melissa was left to take care of herself the only way she knew how because she couldn’t count on anyone else to do it, at least not for very long. Melissa’s past shaped how she dealt with her present.

I had not suffered any significant trauma before jumping headfirst into child welfare. I certainly didn’t know how to recognize it in others. Even now, all these years later, it’s still easier to react to surface behaviors than to truly dig deeper. Perhaps the best tool I have learned throughout my time as a case manager is to be aware of the possibility that a person could have experienced significant trauma in their lifetime that I may never know about and this trauma affects the way they function in everyday life. Rather than asking why a person is acting a certain way, we need to ask what may have happened in their past to create a need for these behaviors. Recognizing trauma in a person can be very difficult, and understanding it can be time-consuming and exhausting. But the potential positive outcomes can be life-changing. We aren’t here to fix people. We’re here to support hurt children and families in their healing process.

DC127_Foster_Adopt_ParentsMelissa still calls me. Now 24 years old and a mother, we speak at least weekly (and more often when she’s down on her luck). She doesn’t always like what I have to say or the suggestions I make, but she listens. She isn’t the most financially successful person, but she provides a safe, stable home for her daughter. She may not have a formal education, but she is still one of the most empathetic young women I know. She is being treated for her lifelong mental health issues. She is engaging in counseling to process her lifetime of pain.

Thankfully, for Melissa, her trauma now means a commitment to do things better for her daughter, Shannon.

fullsizerenderAmanda grew up in central Florida and worked in the foster care system there for 8 years. She relocated to DC in 2014 and is currently earning her Master’s degree in social work from Catholic University. She’s working with DC127 from May 2016 to December 2016.

How a #FAIL taught me a lot about the world

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By Jessica Smith, Safe Families for Children Manager

I grew up in a small farming community in the midwest. There was zero diversity. Our village (yes, it was so small they called it a village) was made up of white, middle class Christians. I was so excited to leave and attend college in a city. On my first day, eager to make friends, I met Mike, an African American man from Detroit. Me, trying to find any connection I could, spotted a round, flat, bristle-filled brush sitting on his desk. “You have horses, too!” I exclaimed with joy (the brush looked exactly like the one I used on my horses back home). He gave me a funny look and hesitantly told me that’s what he used on his hair. I was so embarrassed. #FAIL

IMG_2591Maybe you have a story like this (most of us do- it’s nothing to be ashamed of). In a world with so many cultures, there are bound to be times where our differences collide. If you’re involved with DC127, you’re likely building a relationship with someone or caring for a child who has a different background than you. And that can be scary. But if we truly want to build relationships that cross bridges, and care for children and families well, we must be willing to learn about their culture and become more aware of how different people live life.

There’s a phrase for this: Cultural humility. Cultural humility is about being aware and appreciating where you come from and how that has shaped your perception of the world.
I can’t change where I grew up or what brushes I used for my horse, but I can recognize how my experiences shaped the way I view the world and created the bias I carry around.  Cultural humility means I am aware of how I view the world, but I also take steps to learn about other people’s views and value these differences.

Cultural humility demands openness. We have to admit that we cannot, and will not, ever know everything about the world. We have to be willing to take ourselves out of positions of power and privilege and admit that we don’t know how a parent feels, and we don’t know what they are going through.  Openness allows us to learn from the people we’re walking with, which in turn creates stronger and longer lasting relationships.

Openness allows us to learn from the people we’re walking with, which in turn creates stronger, longer lasting relationships.

So how can we practice the art of cultural humility in our relationships with children and families?

  1. Listen. Really listen to someone’s story. Make sure you’re not just listening to think of solutions. Ask questions, summarize, and reflect on what the person said.
  2.  If you don’t know something about a person, don’t make assumptions. We may never know someone’s whole story. But when we make assumptions, we’re robbing someone of sharing their story with us from their perspective. IMG_2494 (1)There’s an especially high risk of us assuming things about a family because they are involved with Safe Families or foster care.
  3. Get outside of your comfort zone. Try thinking of a situation through someone else’s view. Ask a person where they feel comfortable meeting or eating. For example, your favorite indie coffee shop might make someone else incredibly uncomfortable. What are their favorite places? Maybe they can teach you something new about the city?

When we sign up to walk with a parent or care for a child, we’re not signing up to change or save someone. We’re entering into a relationship amongst equals where we can join together and get through a tough time. We’re modeling love, acceptance, and reliability. We can’t become more focused on fixing the situation, than loving the person and their family. Our relationship with parents and families in crisis must first be an equal relationship between two humans, and not a transaction of help. But in order to achieve this we must respect their culture and humbly admit that we don’t know everything about it.

Month of Prayer, Week 1: Keeping families together

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cosmic stock photo

When a child enters foster care, the first goal is always to reunite them with their families as soon as it’s safe to do so. Reunification is a beautiful portrait of the Gospel (Luke 15:11-32), and mirrors the redemption we receive from God. Unfortunately, only half of all children in the foster system are ever reunited with their families, and a third of those return to foster care within three years. This is why it’s also so important to support struggling families before children are ever removed. Every mom and dad should be able to get the help they need to keep their family together.

This week, will you pray with us for:

  • Children who are struggling:  Pray they experience peace and calm, and know they are loved and are able to establish a sense of stability wherever they are
  • Parents who are working to reunite with their children: Pray for strength in what can be a very long and difficult process, and for them to get access to the resources, encouragement, and support they need
  • Foster parents who are caring for children temporarily: Pray for them as they strengthen the child’s relationship with his/her biological family, and for comfort when that child eventually goes home
  • Social workers and organizations working with parents: Pray for wisdom as they make decisions about next steps and resources, compassion as they encounter difficult situations, and strength as their days are often very long
  • Safe Families for Children and other prevention initiatives: Pray for them to be connected with the families who need their support, and for these initiatives to get the volunteers and financial resources they need

Thank you for praying with us!

Interested in learning more about reunification?

Here are some resources and ways you can be involved:

Watch a 4-minute story from a foster dad on how God taught him the importance of loving a child’s biological family:

And here’s a 7-minute video from the Executive Director the national Safe Families for Children network on why prevention work is so important:

 

 

Thank you to Megan Roberts for her help on this blog!

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.

What is a Family Coach Anyways?

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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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