host homes

We’re going for it.

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 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

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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

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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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