Every year Diablo Magazine recognizes “local heroes who make the world a better place in special ways… changing our community for the better by volunteering.” In December 2018 our own board chairman, Gary Guarisco, was recognized for his invaluable contributions to the organization’s vision, growth and success.
A lack of basic resources can often be what moves a struggling family to become a family in crisis. Tangible items such as a crib or coat, or services from a dentist or mechanic may be the hand of help a family needs to keep themselves from losing touch with hope.
Safe Refuge for Children and Families “Resource Friends” are a collection of resource rich individuals who have the ability to share their skills or material goods with families that are on the edge. Guided by our Family Friends, distribution of these gifts are connected directly to urgent, pressing needs of families.
Resources Friends include:
– Those able to share material goods
By becoming a Resource Friend you fill an essential role in the Safe Refuge for Children and Families program. No one can provide exactly what you can share with a family in crisis. Thank you for your support.
Safe Refuge for Children and Families is committed to supporting parents and bringing love and healing into families that are often isolated and alone. By becoming a Family Friend, your mentoring relationship becomes the cornerstone of healthy living and healing as your family supports and strengthens another family so that they may thrive. The theology regarding God’s promise that he puts the lonely in a family is manifested in this primary relationship between your two families.
Responsibilities of a Family Friend may include, but are not limited to:
– Providing friendship
– Listening when a parent wants to talk
– Providing encouragement when a parent needs a little extra support
– Sharing helpful information about parenting and life in general
– Connecting needy parents to a vast resource network of services and items available
– Supporting parents with children placed with Host Families
– Advocating with for families seeking the proper academic setting, mental and physical health opportunities and other resources for their children.
Family Friends are trained volunteers that are supported by a network of resources that includes: community development organizations, schools, clinics, counseling and churches.
If your church is interested in becoming a vital and vibrant contributor in your community, becoming a Safe Refuge Church is easy. Follow these simple steps and get started today:
1. Contact our office and fill out the church profile form including a staff contact that will represent the volunteer ministry.
2. Meet with local Safe Refuge for Children and Families agency to select ministry launch date and your plan to share Safe Refuge with your congregation. (All churches).
3. Work with local agency as they initially handle administrative duties and case management as you create or implement Safe Refuge within your existing church ministries or start a new one. (Only churches that select this level of involvement).
4. Once you identify volunteer leadership, your local agency will help to train and support them as they begin to tackle their new roles. (Only churches that select this level of involvement).
1. Interest Form: Contact our office at 925.566.8050 and receive the interest form to begin the process of becoming a Safe Refuge.
2. Home Visit: As soon as we receive your completed application, we will contact you to set up a time for a home visit. This visit gives us an opportunity to get acquainted and also allow our staff to visually confirm that your home is a safe place.
3. Training: Training provides opportunities for personal growth that can help make your experience with Safe Refuge more rewarding both for you, your family and for children who may come into your home. Safe Refuge training is available online and takes about four hours to complete (volunteers without internet access can request a DVD version).
4. Background Check/Fingerprinting: This varies from state-to-state. After submitting your application, someone from your local Safe Refuge office will contact you regarding background checks and fingerprinting instructions.
5. Letters of Recommendation: It is our policy to recruit Safe Refuge volunteers whose lives reflect stable personal values and morals. Thus, volunteers need to provide three letters of reference from people who can attest to this aspect of their lives.
When crisis strikes, many of us rely on relatives and our church family for support. But for some parents, there isn’t a safety net. Often problems such as drug addiction, domestic abuse, incarceration, or illness can be debilitating, making it impossible for parents to care for their children. With the changing economy many more families are experiencing financial crisis, unemployment, and homelessness. During such crisis, children are especially at-risk for neglect or abuse as their parents struggle to cope with crushing circumstances and emotions.
State welfare emergency hotlines throughout the nation reportedly receive over 5 million calls each year of suspected child abuse or neglect. Of those calls, about one million meet the criteria for state intervention. What happens to the remaining four million families that don’t qualify for help?
Overburdened by need and restrained by resources, law and policy most state welfare agencies are allowed to rescue only children who have suffered blatant abuse or neglect. Overwhelmed and underfunded, the state is ill-equipped to deal with a problem of this magnitude.
Without assistance, many of these families will find the issues in their homes escalating to episodes of abuse and/or neglect with long lasting consequences for not only the child, but also for our communities as well.
Since 2005, Safe Refuge for Children and Families has offered sanctuary to thousands of children, minimizing the risk for abuse or neglect and giving parents the time and tools they need to help their families thrive. The ultimate goal is to strengthen and support parents so they can become Safe Refuge for their own children.
Safe Refuge for Children and Families strives to meet three objectives:
Child Welfare Deflection: Safe Refuge provides a safe alternative to child welfare custody, thus significantly reducing the number of children entering the child welfare system.
Child Abuse Prevention: Providing an overwhelmed and resource limited parent with a safe, temporary place for their child without threat of losing custody. By offering support, the goal is to avert potential abuse/neglect episodes.
Family Support and Stabilization: Many parents struggle because of limited social support and unavailable extended family. Many Safe Refuge Volunteers become the extended family that a parent never had.
Hallmarks of a Safe Refuge Model:
Biological Parents maintain full custody
Volunteer families are extensively screened and supported
Six-week average length of stay (ranging from two days to a year)
Average age of child in SFFC care is 4.5
Close relationships between Safe Refuge, the local church, & the referring organization
Commitment to reunite the family as soon as possible