“I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.” —Matthew 25:35
Imagine that your family suddenly encounters an unexpected crisis—a serious illness, for example, or loss of your home. Who would care for your children while you work to resolve the crisis? Now imagine that you have no extended family or other support system to turn to. Safe Families for Children (SFFC), affiliated with Bethany Christian Services, helps parents in temporary crisis by providing a loving family with whom their children may stay until the crisis has passed. This ensures that children will be well cared for and enables parents to devote more of their energy to resolving the crisis.
In order to be able to meet the needs of all families referred to them, SFFC is currently seeking host families and other volunteers. Begun in 2002, SFFC had 153 hosting arrangements in the St. Louis Metropolitan area in 2013. This was double the number from 2012. Host families are carefully screened and trained. Beginning the application process now will prepare you to help meet anticipated summer needs. Host families always have the choice of whether to accept a particular case.
SFFC is neither adoption nor fostering. Instead, it is a unique program that allows parents to retain custody of their children, and to remain involved in their children’s lives, while they work through challenging circumstances. Parents do not pay for SFFC, nor do host families receive financial compensation. Nearly all children are reunited with their families, sometimes in the most stable environment they have ever known.
Each SFFC situation is unique. Although children may range in age from newborns to 18 years, most children are 6 years of age or younger. The average length of stay is about 45 days.
SFFC provides an opportunity to show love and Christian hospitality to a family in need. Host families may be singles or married couples of any age—anyone who can make room in their hearts and homes for children in need. If you would like to help but don’t feel that you can host a child in your home, you could provide various kinds of support by being a Safe Family Friend. For more information, visit www.safe-families.org or contact Sharon Riordan, SFFC volunteer coordinator, at 314-609-1006 or . If you’d prefer to first get information from someone at Central, you may contact Life Team member Fran Hamilton at 636-527-6462 or