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Have you ever thought of becoming a foster parent, or know someone who has been a foster parent? You likely know that being a foster parent can be a challenging yet rewarding task to undertake.
Maybe you’ve considered getting involved, because you have a desire to help but you weren’t sure a traditional foster care role was the best fit for you or your family. If that’s the case, but you’d still like to find a way to help, let me introduce you to Safe Families for Children.
SFFC provides families with a support network
Safe Families for Children (SFFC) is a non-profit organization that was started by faith communities to provide children and families in times of crisis with support, a safe haven, and assistance that allows parents to get back on their feet and children to reunite with their parents once stability has been restored to their lives.
SFFC has chapters in 70 cities around the world—including right here in Fresno—with one common mission: to provide an extended family-like network of support for families during desperate times in order to keep children safe and families intact.
Fresno is home to a growing community of volunteers that come from churches of various denominations (and non-denominational churches as well) from across the Valley, all with the common goal of answering the call to help our area’s most vulnerable population—children.
More often than not, children served by SFFC are under the age of six, and they stay with SFFC volunteer families called “host families” for a period of anywhere from a few days up to a year, depending on the situation that caused the biological family to experience a crisis, and how long it takes for that crisis to be de-escalated and stabilized.
According to SFFC, 46% of those who ask for help from SFFC are self-referred, meaning they request support themselves, and 93% of children are reunited with their biological families.
SFFC host families, like foster families, go through an application, background check, and training process, and they have access to support from the SFFC leadership team, which is lead locally by Kim Lehner, MSW, and Taylor Starks, BSW.
There are multiple ways to support SFFC
The local chapter of SFFC is recruiting volunteers to help Fresno families during times of need, and there are many ways to help!
Beyond becoming a host family (currently, there are 20 host families in the Fresno area, and counting), here are several other great ways you can get involved:
- Become a Family Friend – This is someone who supports through mentoring or providing transportation or other support to parents in need, or meals or babysitting respite for host families.
- Become a Family Coach – This professional-level volunteer helps connect the family in need with needed community services and resources, serves as a liaison between the host family and family in need, and ensures the safety of children as they stay with their host family by performing regular home visits.
- Become a Resource Friend – This is someone willing to donate goods or professional services that may help children in need. Items such as clothing, diapers or school supplies may be needed, or perhaps you have a professional skill that could be offered in benefit of the SFFC mission (i.e. providing medical care, accounting assistance, managing a fundraiser, etc.)
If you are looking for a truly rewarding, local volunteer opportunity, Safe Families for Children may be a great fit for you.
If you’d like to hear more about the Fresno SFFC volunteer experience from other volunteers, there will be a community event taking place on Feb. 25 at Northpointe Church (4625 West Palo Alto Ave.) at 2 p.m. This event is open to the public, and you’ll have a chance to hear firsthand accounts of the experience of local host families. RSVP here.