Emergency Care - Help a Child

Helping families in times of crisis

When parents are going through a crisis, you can temporarily welcome their children into your home, allowing the parents to take essential steps toward stability. While the child's stay with you is short, your impact lasts forever.
Asian man plays with blocks with the boy he's caring for through safe families

Finding safe families for children

When a family is in crisis, kids can become vulnerable to neglect and abuse. No family should experience this. Through the Safe Families ministry, volunteer Host Families offer loving care to parents, watching over their children while the parents regain stability.

Emergency care is not foster care

Understand the key differences between foster care and emergency care.

Courts and compensation

In foster care, children are placed into homes through the courts, and foster families receive compensation for their care. In Safe Families, parents voluntarily place children into homes, and host families receive no compensation for their care.

Different reasons for hosting

With foster care, the courts remove a child from their home, often because of abuse or neglect. With emergency care, parents voluntarily seek a safe place for their child due to a number of reasons including an unexpected illness, homelessness, or the lack of extended family support.

The length of stay

While it may vary, the average length of stay in Safe Families is 30 days, whereas foster care can be closer to a year. This temporary care for children gives parents time to re-establish stability in their homes so the family can be reunited—stronger than ever.

What is the background of the children served by Safe Families?

Children hosted by Safe Families often come from difficult circumstances. They are not believed to be victims of abuse. If they were, they would enter foster care while their parents’ rights were reviewed by the state.

What type of situations do the children come from?

The children come from families that are experiencing a crisis, such as financial problems, unemployment, or homelessness. In other cases, children come from families in which the parent needs time to heal physically or emotionally, or is recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction.

How long does a child usually stay with a Host Family?

The average length of stay is about 30 days, but hosting arrangements can last from two days to six months. We make every effort at the time of placement to estimate the length of stay. Factors include the severity of the family’s crisis and the willingness and ability of the biological parent or guardian to address the issues involved in the crisis.

What ages of children does Safe Families serve?

While Host Families can care for newborns through adolescents (0-17), the majority of children hosted are 4-6 years old.

What type of contact will the Host Family have with the parent(s)?

Parents maintain full custody of their child and are encouraged to maintain contact and participate in decisions regarding their child’s care. Safe Families aims to facilitate a relationship between Host Families and the parent(s), in which the host family becomes a kind of “extended family” for the family in crisis. Host Families are strongly encouraged to maintain a relationship with the family even after the hosting ends.

Will a child in Safe Families typically have behavior problems?

Possibly, but not necessarily. Trauma can influence a normally well-behaved child to behave poorly, and can influence a child with behavior problems to behave better. Some children may display behavioral problems as a result of the chaos in their lives, while others may be exceptionally calm and composed. It’s impossible to predict how the child will behave. Remember, it is the crisis of the parent(s) which trigger a referral, not difficult behaviors of a child.

Can the Host Family adopt the child?

The goal of Safe Families is to reunite children with their parent in a home that is more stable and healthy. Currently, 95% of all families reunify, often in the most stable environment they’ve ever known. If, however, the parent loses legal custody of their child(ren), Host Families are welcome to contact a social services agency about the possibility of fostering or adopting.

Volunteer

Open your home and provide temporary, emergency care. Or encourage and assist a Host Family in your community.

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Invest

Make this vital ministry a part of your church's mission by recruiting volunteers and supporting financially.

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Advocate

Share the importance of Safe Families as an alternative to foster care.

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