Safe Families nonprofit seeks to help keep local families intact
A promising effort has been launched in the Wenatchee Valley to create a network of support to help struggling families and reduce the risk of having their kids end up in the state’s troubled and labyrinthine foster care system.
Sherry Mott, a mother of four kids who also has a business background along with an advisory board, is driving the effort to establish the Central Washington Safe Families for Children. Safe Families has been operating for 20 years in the nation and has served more than 37,000 children and families with 64,000 hostings, according to the organization.
To illustrate the need, Mott said she saw a post on social media from a mother who in desperation was hoping to find someone to watch her kids and was wondering if someone would meet her at a local park to take them. She found that frightening because “with social media, you don’t know who’s going to respond or why they would respond,” she said.
This underscores the challenge that parents who are struggling have when they don’t have an adequate support system and the need to offer a safer alternative for families needing help.
The Safe Families model is to partner with local churches to provide support to families that are in crisis to keep kids safe and families intact. Mott launched the local effort in late December and has already raised the necessary $50,000 required to prove sustainability. Now Mott is busy meeting with faith leaders and nonprofits to develop a support network to be able to provide the support.
Mott said she’s already getting requests for help from families but is having to tell people that the organization is still in the formative stages.
The plight of foster kids has been on the radar screen of Mott and her husband for several years. “We have lots of friends that have been involved with the foster care system and we are seeing a gap” in what nonprofits and the state provide, Mott told me.
Mott is reaching out to churches in the community to see if she can tap into their network of caring. “There is a huge base, within our churches in the Wenatchee Valley, that have a heart for helping struggling families because that is part of who they are. We want to equip, encourage and empower what they are doing and be there to support them so they can offer the relationship, connection and belonging that struggling families need to be successful,” said Mott.
Mott and a licensed social worker will be doing the background checks necessary as well as training in supporting families to ensure that kids are in safe environments. The model of Safe Families is to develop “circles of support” for a family in crisis.
Families can apply to be hosts to have a child or children in the home, typically somewhere between 24-hour period to a couple of weeks, but could be longer depending on the situation. There will be family coaches and family friends to help support the families. The goal is to keep families together.
Mott contrasted the Safe Families effort as not a replacement for what the state is doing but an earlier community intervention. Mott is connecting to churches, local businesses and nonprofits in her effort to get enough circles of support in place to begin helping local families.
Wenatchee First Assembly of God has offered to be a lead church for the Safe Families effort and other churches are also supporting the effort, including Sage Hills Church, Hope Church for Wenatchee, Breath of Life Church, Columbia Grove and Trinity Church.
For more information about the organization, please access centralwashington.safe-families.org. To support the local Safe Families effort, you can participate in a fundraising dinner and auction on Sept 9, from 6-8 p.m. at the Sage Hills Church. You can buy tickets by visiting safefamilies-centralwashington.funraise.org
What I appreciate about this effort is that they are working to develop more local resources to solve the challenges facing our neighbors who are struggling.