A new family support program can help state foster care programs create safe havens for children in need, provide a stable environment while enabling families to resolve temporary issues, says the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA).
Overloaded state systems are failing the most vulnerable children and children who have any contact with foster care are far more likely than their peers to struggle, FGA says. Safe Families for Children, a program designed to empower community organizations to connect trained and vetted host families with families experiencing a temporary crisis promises to lighten this load while offering essential preventative support.
The outlook for foster children is often bleak, even for those who spend just a short time in foster care, FGA says. The FBI estimates 60% of the children they rescue from sex trafficking had prior contact with foster care, and states as far apart as New York and California are finding the same thing, FGA says.
Safe Families gives parents the support they need to make it through a tough situation by providing temporary care for children in a safe and loving home while allowing parents to retain full parental rights as they work toward improving life for their family, the group says. This model has been used since 2002, when it was started in Chicago, and more than 20,000 placements have taken place since then with 90 percent of the children being successfully reunited with their families, the group says.
Since the Safe Families model relies on early intervention, it’s critically important that states create a legal environment where families can feel comfortable coming forward with their problems. That means local departments and agencies should look to Safe Families as another tool for helping families in need, rather than a new version of foster care, the group says.