Safe Families -- Your Family -- Can Make a Difference PDF Print E-mail

Jennifer and I were privileged to be a ‘safe family’ before there was a Safe Families for Children. It was 2004.  Our boys were students at Grant School right across the street. We were volunteering there (still are!).  SLF was soon to be a partner in the “No Meth/Yes Foster Care” initiative that would transform the community in so many ways—a legacy that still has impacts and influences today.

One of Samuel’s best friends was named Crystal*. We got to know her and her family through the rhythms and intersections of grade school. Her parents were nice, but something was wrong. Crystal was coming to school late, often hungry, in clothes that were increasingly mussed. Mom was often late to pick her up from the after-school program; sometimes she was on edge and volatile. We soon learned that meth, pot and alcohol were plaguing both parents, who had recently split up. (*Not her real name)

 

One day Mom was at our door. High. Someone had reported her and DHS was investigating. The estranged Dad was unfit to take custody. The girls were headed for foster care, and the whole “No Meth/Yes Foster Care” concept went from ‘macro’ to ‘micro’ for us in 48 hours. In order to keep the girls together and Crystal in her neighborhood school, DHS and Mom were looking for a Grant-area family to take the girls in – maybe for a few weeks, maybe for a few months. Mom asked Jennifer and I to be that family. She signed a make-shift permission slip giving us authority to make certain decisions. We were fingerprinted and quick-certified by DHS, and the girls came to live with us.

The rest of the story includes triumph and tragedy; joy and pain. Too many facets to chronicle here, but the kinds of successes and failures that most families experience. (I can report that Crystal is happily married and just became a mom herself!). Bottom line—everyone’s lives are richer because one family was able to help another family during a time of crisis. One family was able to provide temporary care for children who needed a safe place to live. One family was able to stretch its comfort zone to bless, and be blessed. I share this story not that Jennifer and I would be praised. In fact, we were far from perfect as we navigated the hard road with Crystal and her family. The point is that we were willing to try. Willing to stretch. Willing to learn. If only there had been a Safe Families for Children back then!


We could have benefited from the training, the template, and the encouragement of others traveling the same path. Safe Families is not in contention or competition with foster care—just the opposite. The two are complementary structures for helping kids and families, and the outcome is a reduced need for foster care as churches and families learn how to put faith-into-action on behalf of the children. To learn more, I’m hoping you’ll join me on April 21 (see above). It’ll changes lives. Who knows, maybe …

 

 
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