How long does a child usually stay with a host family?
The average length of stay is about six weeks, but placements usually last from one day to three months. The Safe Families team makes 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 to address the issues involved in the crisis, among others.
What is the background of the children placed in a Safe Family?
These are normal children coming from sometimes very difficult circumstances. Each child will respond to the situation differently, depending on their personality and coping skills. Some may show little response to the circumstances in their lives, while others may be deeply affected. Please note that the children placed by Safe Families are not believed to be victims of abuse and neglect. If they were, they would instead have become wards of the Crown and not eligible for this project.
What ages of children does the Safe Families outreach serve?
While Safe Families can provide placements for newborns through adolescents (0-18), there will be a concentration on the younger and most vulnerable children (ages 0-6).
What type of contact will the host family have with the biological parent?
Biological parents maintain full custody of their child, and are encouraged to participate in decisions regarding their child’s care while they address whatever issues led to the instability in their lives. Our aim is to facilitate a partnership relationship between volunteers and the biological parent(s), in which the Host Family becomes a kind of “extended family” for the family in crisis. We encourage Host Families to maintain a relationship with the family even after the placement ends, if possible.
Can the host family adopt the child?
The goal of the Safe Families project is to reunite children with their biological parent in a home that is more stable and healthy, in part, because of the contribution of the Safe Families intervention. Currently, 85% of all families in the project come back together, often in the most stable environment they’ve ever known. If, however, the biological parent loses legal custody of their child(ren), we urge Host Families to contact an agency other than Safe Families about the possibility of fostering or adopting.
What type of situations do the children come from?
The children come from families that are experiencing a crisis of one sort or another. Such crises might include financial problems, unemployment and homelessness. In other cases, children come from families in which the parent has an unexpected stay in hospital or needs time to heal physically or emotionally. Some children come from families in which the mother is being abused. Still other families are thrown into crisis when a parent is remanded to a correctional institution for a period of time. While these and other kinds of crises are traumatic, they also offer the opportunity for positive personal and familial transformations. Acceptance of the child into SFC is based on whether a family is available to care for that child when placement is being requested. Some Host Families are able to accept sibling groups and parenting/pregnant teens.
Will a child in the Safe Families project typically have a lot of 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 astound us with their calm and composure. It’s impossible to predict how the child will behave.