How Safe Families keeps kids out of the foster care system

Oftentimes kids wind up in foster care systems because their parents lack a basic support system that would allow them to meet their children’s basic needs. To prevent children from ever having to go through the trauma of being separated from their biological parents, an organization called Safe Families for Children has created a resource for parents to access when they need support raising their kids.

Basically, parents who know they cannot care for their child can contact Safe Families for help. The child will then be placed in a safe and loving home while the parents can focus on taking care of themselves. Safe Families says most of the parents who contact them are struggling with mental illness, loss of employment, homelessness, or addiction. By giving their children a safe place to live, the parents can receive the care they need to get themselves into the position to be a more responsible parent.

As Safe Families puts it, the parents who contact them are not bad parents; they simply need help. Nellye Rojas was one of these parents.

“I’m bipolar and have severe depression problems and PTSD with other medical issues,” says Rojaas. “At the moment when I partnered with Safe Families, I was pregnant and I lost my baby due to a really bad car accident. So work was getting to me, losing my kid was getting to me, and somebody from work called (the Department of Children and Family Services) and said that I was neglecting my kids.”

While Rojas’ children were hosted by a woman who had been looking for a way in which she could make a positive impact in other’s lives, Safe Families provided mentors and “family friends” to Rojas so that she could get some necessary help.

“We believe that a parent is capable if given enough support, to be the parent that their children need them to be,” said Dave Anderson, a clinical psychologist and founder of Safe Families.

Since Safe Families was established in 2003, nearly 50,000 hostings for children have been arranged throughout the US. Incredibly, 95 percent of those children have eventually been reunited with their families. Anderson says that the volunteers from Safe Families often remain in the picture and continue providing support to families to ensure that these kids never have to enter the foster care system.

In America, the foster care system has proven itself ineffective. Just 49 percent of foster children are reunited with their parents, and young adults who age out of the foster care system are often subject to higher rates of unemployment, poor educational outcomes, and homelessness.

As Safe Families has proven, there is a better way to keep families together: providing parents with a basic support system so that they can become the parents they want to be!

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