The average length of stay is about 6 weeks, but hosting arrangements usually last from 2 days to a year. Safe Families for Children makes every effort to estimate the length of stay at the time of hosting.
These children sometimes come from very difficult circumstances. Each child will respond to the situation differently, depending on his or her personality and coping skills. Children placed by Safe Families are not believed to be victims of physical or sexual abuse; otherwise, they would be wards of the state and ineligible for hosting.
Although traumatic, crisis can also offer an opportunity for positive personal and familial transformations. Children are accepted into Safe Families based on the availability of a Host Family. Some Host Families are able to accept sibling groups and parenting/pregnant teens.
The children can be newborns through teens (0–18 years). In reality, about 70% of children we serve are less than 6 years old.
Biological or adoptive parents (or legal guardians) maintain full custody of their children and are encouraged to participate in decisions regarding their care. Our aim is to facilitate partnerships between volunteers and Families in need to where the Host Family is regarded as extended family. We encourage the relationship to continue after the children return home.
It’s impossible to predict how a child will respond to the instability from a family situation/crisis or to being in a new family setting. What is certain, however, is that providing needed, reliable, and caring support is always in a child’s best interest. In addition, if a child isn’t fitting in with a host family home and efforts to improve the situation are not successful, the host family has a right to ask that the child be moved to another home.
Our primary goal is to reunite children with their biological family or legal guardian in a home that is more stable and healthy, thanks in part to Safe Families’ help. Currently, 93% of all Families in Need who turn to Safe Families for help eventually reunite with their children, often after creating the most stable environment they’ve ever known. However, if Families in Need are considering not having their child returned to them, the Family Coach will refer them to resources to help them consider their options.
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