Lasting and stable relationships with caring adults are important for a child’s well-being — and children involved in the foster care system are at risk of lacking these vital relationships. Without a supportive community, families can quickly end up in unstable situations where child welfare services are called. And once flagged in the system, families run the risk of being torn apart. Most parents whose children are forcibly removed from their care are facing temporary challenges like unemployment, homelessness, or medical emergencies, and don’t have a social support system to which they can turn. Without a community of support, parents can face not only the loss of their children, but their choice as well.
Since 2003, Safe Families for Children has offered an alternative model to keep parents connected to their children, and supported by community, while their children are being cared for by others. Stand Together Foundation, an organization within the Stand Together community, is partnering with Safe Families to bring its model to more cities across the country. Safe Families is currently active in 40 states and children in the program are reunited with their parents 95 percent of the time — nearly double the reunification rate of the foster care system. Now, Stand Together Foundation’s investment and partnership with Safe Families will help the organization go state-wide in Florida and expand into New York City and Los Angeles, so they can help many more children. With this expansion comes an ambitious goal: to recruit 1 million volunteers over the next three years.
Volunteers like Danielle Patelis, a single woman and young professional in the Chicago area, are connected with parents like Nellye Rojas, a single mother of two facing mental health challenges. These volunteers, acting like an extended family, provide the level of support and community that parents need to get back on their feet and reunite with their children once they are able. Along the way, they build lifelong relationships that help families flourish.