Have you ever felt like your life was spinning out of control? Can you remember the people who stood beside you during this season? Imagine if those people were not there, and you had to go through it alone. That is where Kimberly Jones found herself last summer. Kimberly experienced an injury that left her jobless with an empty savings account and no place to live with her 11 year-old son, Jonathan. Changing Lives Center (CLC), a women and children’s shelter, provided a temporary home for Kimberly, and knew a better solution for Jonathan, Safe Families for Children (SFFC).
Safe Families for Children
Safe Families for Children was founded in 2002 to help prevent neglect and child abuse. SFFC works to reframe how families are supported during a crisis by surrounding isolated families with a caring, compassionate community. SFFC creates an extended family-like support for desperate families through a community of devoted volunteers who are motivated by faith to keep children safe and keep families intact. Since inception, Safe Families has assisted almost 20,000 children and families across the nation.
In 2013, Christian Family Care (CFC), an Arizona based foster care and adoption agency, brought SFFC to Arizona to help provide a solution to the foster care crisis. The leadership of CFC saw the importance of incorporating the church in showing Biblical hospitality to vulnerable children and families. The goal is to reduce the overall number of children entering the foster care system and to help strengthen the family unit.
A Community Effort
Safe Families for Children, partners with local organizations like The Changing Lives Center to accomplish their mission. Terry Smith, Program Director at the CLC explained, “Safe Families for Children is a significant partner in our efforts to help our clients to focus on their recovery from substance abuse and other life controlling issues knowing that their children are safe and well cared for.” When Kimberly arrived at the CLC, she quickly learned that SFFC would give her the opportunity and time to get her life back on track. At first, Kimberly was a little skeptical about leaving her only child with a stranger but after meeting her child’s Host Family, Stan and Stacy Ridley, she was confident they would take great care of Jonathan.
Over the next three months, Jonathan stayed with the Ridley family while mom was searching for a new job and securing a stable place to live. The Ridley’s took care of Jonathan like he was their own, and kept him connected with his mother throughout his stay.
Stan and Stacy’s church, Christ’s Church of the Valley, played a big role in the hosting. On the week of Jonathan’s birthday, their Bible study turned their small group into a birthday party where everyone brought presents.
After finding a new job and a new apartment, Kimberly and Jonathan were reunited. 97.5% of the families that use SFFC Arizona are reunited with their family, and kept out of the Child Welfare System.
A Year Later
It has almost been a year since Jonathan stayed with the Ridley’s. They still talk once a week and try to go to see the Cardinals play every chance they can. Kimberly now has her Master’s Degree, an amazing full time job with great benefits and a company car! The success of the Jones family is largely based on the wonderful volunteers that walked with them through a very difficult time.
We Need You!
Through the efforts of dozens of volunteers and churches, Safe Families for Children Arizona has hosted over 135 children since 2014. Those 135 children’s families were surrounded by a loving community and were able to avoid the Child Welfare System.
The number of families served only represents a small fraction of the families in crisis in our community who need help. SFFC Arizona needs you, your church, and your community. This movement is dependent upon those willing to open their homes, befriend a stranger and support families in crisis. These acts of kindness can make a life changing difference and keep families intact. Visit safe-families.org or contact Cody Fort at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can get involved today!
Cody Fort, Safe Families for Children Arizona Supervisor