SAFE FAMILIES SUNDAY GUIDEBOOKHOSPITALITYHEALSU n l e a s h i n g R a d i c a l l y C o m p a s s i o n a t e C o m m u n i t i e s
WELCOME AND PURPOSEpage 3-4The why of Safe Families Sunday and howyour churches can participate and partner.PARTNERS IN PREVENTIONpage 5Discover how, together, we can help changethe world through family.S A F E F A M I L I E S S U N D A Y 2 0 2 3 | P A G E 2TABLE OF CONTENTSpage 6SAFE FAMILY SUNDAY OPTIONSFind out creative ways your church can raiseawareness and celebrate Safe Families Sunday.page 7GROWING THE MOVEMENTThere are many ways to help grow andsupport the Safe Families movement.page 8-9CHURCH AND CHILD PROTECTIONGeneral questions and answers about SafeFamilies for Children and Safe Families Sunday.page 10-11FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSOur founder shares the role of the church inkeeping children safe and families together.
WELCOMEDear Church Community,As we pause in April to remember the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our minds andhearts are refreshed by the revolutionary message that changed the world. Through Hisdeath and resurrection, we were spiritually healed to live in grace-filled relationships so wecan demonstrate His character and display His love to those who are hurting and lost hope.Jesus ushered in a new way of thinking through His resurrection power. All people wereworthy and welcomed into a relationship with Him. Jesus ate with outcasts, touched theunclean, ministered to the downtrodden, recruited women into His ministry, and revealedHimself after the resurrection to "second-class citizens." Those who followed Jesus began to act as if every life was worthy! The community of peoplecalled Christians, to be known as the Church, ministered to the sick and disabled, builthospitals, pursued universal education, spread teaching through universities, welcomedstrangers into their homes, and cared for the poor and disenfranchised in society. FollowingJesus was marked by a call to do hard things because it means living in the image of Him--showing those around us who He is.The movement of Safe Families for Children follows this story of Jesus: connecting familieswho are facing crisis, often alone, to relationships, through the hands and feet of Jesus'followers. Safe Families brings people together through relationships to unleash the powerof radically compassionate communities to heal and transform lives and communities.When people are supported, appreciated, respected, and connected, it creates hope. At Safe Families, we are in the business of building relationships. We believe all families,especially those facing crisis in isolation, are worthy and should be welcomed intorelationships by those transformed by the gospel. And when we share God's love and gracewith others, we experience more of it in our own lives. That is the healing power ofhospitality, both the giver and recipient are equally blessed!Thank you for your participation in Safe Families Sunday. As you make your plans, we urgeyou to use these resources to communicate both the need and the opportunity for yourchurch to be engaged in championing all children and families. Small steps can mean theworld for those facing crisis, and your church can play a critical role in helping keep childrensafe and families together. Thank you for all that you do to be a light and lifeline for families in your community!S A F E F A M I L I E S S U N D A Y 2 0 2 3 | P A G E 3
PURPOSEWHAT IS SAFE FAMILIES SUNDAY?Safe Families Sunday is a designated day for your church to be engaged to love and support isolatedfamilies in your community who are facing a crisis and unmanageable circumstances. Over the pastseveral years, our way of life has presented many challenges due to the pandemic. We have all feltthe stress and strain that social isolation creates on all of us, and we have all come together to moredeeply appreciate the need for radically, compassionate communities. Now, more than ever, thecalling of the church to "love your neighbor" is needed!This year, Safe Families for Children celebrates our 20th anniversary of helping keep children safeand families together. We both celebrate and thank you for your commitment to biblicalhospitality. The theme of Safe Families Sunday this year is "Hospitality Heals: UnleashingRadically Compassionate Communities." The practice of hospitality is a way of life that sees everyday as a unique opportunity to love a stranger right where you are. This can be applied in so manyways when you partner with Safe Families and respond with an outreached hand to those in need.Safe Families Sunday is planned to align with National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. Thismonth is set aside to draw attention to at-risk children and the importance of strengtheningfamilies to help prevent child abuse and neglect. This is a nationwide campaign helps to educatechurches and communities about the importance of supporting vulnerable parents with the beliefthat intervening early is key to building family resiliency and strength over time.Churches are a vital part of our communities and strong communities are built on strong families.The goal of Safe Families Sunday is to provide you with concrete ways to strengthen yourconnections with families in your community and help keep children safe and families together!S A F E F A M I L I E S S U N D A Y 2 0 2 3 | P A G E 4WHEN IS SAFE FAMILIES SUNDAY?The official Safe Families Sunday is April 23, 2023. In the event this date doesn't work on a localchurch's calendar, the event can take place any given Sunday. We just encourage churches to designate a specific time where the Safe Families mission can be highlighted along with volunteerrecognition, recruitment, and training opportunities. If you are a new church partner, this is a greattime to spotlight and introduce Safe Families for Children to your congregation.April 16-22, 2023, is also Volunteer Appreciation Week and leads up to Safe Families Sunday.This is a great time for churches to appreciate and hear from volunteers involved in the SafeFamilies movement. Volunteers do the heavy lifting in hosting children and supporting families, andit is important to set aside times for recognition and encouragement!
We believe the church can and should be a place where families turn for love, help,support, and guidance. Prevention is essential to help keep children safe and familiestogether. Our goal is to provide your church with concrete ways to strengthen yourconnections with families in your community and also within your church congregation.We believe churches can benefit in many ways by participating with Safe Families!BIBLICAL HOSPITALITYJesus entered the hardest, most difficult places in people's lives with humility, grace, andcompassion. Practicing hospitality is an invitation to serve like Jesus that is inspired by God'sunconditional love.SPIRITUAL FORMATIONYour church can be part of a movement of compassion and hope that strengthens yourcommunity and supports children and parents right where they are following God's commissionto love your neighbor.COMMUNITY BUILDINGChurch families serving together build community within the church while extending communityto others. It also gives the opportunity for church leadership to build relationships withcommunity partners for shared responsibility and solutions.STRONGER FAMILIESVolunteers who are parents model hospitality, generosity, and compassion to their children andprovide practical opportunities for their children to learn, share, and demonstrate what it lookslike to be a Christ-follower.INCREASED CONNECTION TO COMMUNITYConnection happens as your church comes alongside of families feeling isolated and facing crisisto provide relationships and tangible support while sharing the love and grace of Christ.COMPASSION AND JUSTICERelationships between vulnerable children, parents, and volunteers offer opportunities to learnfrom each other though shared and different life experiences and perspectives.S A F E F A M I L I E S S U N D A Y 2 0 2 3 | P A G E 5PARTNERS IN PREVENTIONHOW CHURCHES CAN BE THE ANSWER TO PREVENTIONHOW CHURCHES CAN BE THE ANSWER TO PREVENTION
SAFE FAMILIESSUNDAY EVENTOPTIONSFive-Minute Sunday PresentationUse this designated time to acknowledgevolunteers and your church's efforts tostrengthen families. Have volunteers weartheir t-shirts and highlight a Host Family orFamily Friend story of engagement andshare how your church is unleashingradically compassionate communities totransform families.Plan a Volunteer Appreciation EventUse this time to appreciate and engagevolunteers encouraging their efforts tostrengthen your church's Circles of Support.Highlight both new volunteer training andopportunities to serve the community.Display Informational Table in LobbyPlace a table in the lobby to spotlightvolunteer opportunities to serve and supportfamilies.Offer a Small Group StudyScan QR code to access the 5-weekHospitality Unleashed small group studyand discussion guide.Social Media CampaignShare testimonies of volunteers on yoursocial media platforms to raise awarenessand share stories of hope. Use our socialmedia images to appreciate volunteers.Host a Volunteer Training EventSpotlight training opportunities to hear aboutthe mission of Safe Families and ways peoplecan become involved with supporting themission.Plan a Fundraiser or Offering Invite your church to invest in SFFC byplanning a special fundraiser or taking an offering to raise funds for SFFC. WAYS CHURCHES CAN PARTICIPATE:Check outCheck out our Safe Families Sundayour Safe Families Sunday webpage for additional resources!webpage for additional resources!
Host a special time of prayer for the Safe Families for Children movement,locally nationally, and globallyWrite letters of encouragement for kids and their parents to receive when ahosting startsRead/study a book on compassion, hospitality, or generosity with your smallgroupDeliver a sermon themed on hospitality, compassion, generosity, or serving inthe community Sing a worship song set about compassion, God’s heart for the needy, etc.Commission Safe Families volunteersInvite a placing parent, helped by volunteers, from your church to speak or beinterviewedInvite a Host Family, Family Friend, or Family Coach to share about theirexperiencePlan a Safe Families fundraiserTake up a special love offering for Safe Families for Children ChapterShow a film or video that emphasizes family preservation, child abuseprevention, compassion, etc.Create a visual illustration of the need in your community/state (i.e. kids infoster care vs. at-risk families)Ask business leaders in your church to donate Kickoff or relaunch your Safe Families ministryStart a scholarship fund for daycare expenses, camp fees, etc.Have a dedicated space in your church, on your website or on your socialmedia platforms for people to get information and get involved.ADDITIONAL WAYS TOCELEBRATE SAFE FAMILIES SUNDAY
How can I increase financialsupport for this movement?Hosting a child costs approximately $1,500.This includes all of our volunteerengagement, training, mobilization, outreach,intake or oversight efforts. Individuals orchurches can give one-time gifts or recurringgifts to their local Safe Families chapter. Ifyour church would like to tangibly help keepfour kids out of foster care, a goal of $6,000can be set, achieved and provided!FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSWhat is the impact of Safe Familiesfor Children?Nearly all the families served are at-risk, socially isolated,and under-resourced. Safe Families is preventative andproactive in nature, so we are able to help preventchildren from getting abused or neglected (which oftencome during times of stress and crisis) and help deflectchildren from entering the foster care system. We’vehosted over 64,000 children since we started 20 yearsago. The average cost of a child in foster care is about$30,000, while the average cost to host a child in SafeFamilies is only $1,500. We have a 95% reunificationrate. In contrast, less than 50% of children are reunited infoster care. Volunteers that serve with Safe Families have atremendous opportunity to 1) serve as a family(most of our Host Families have their own childrenin the home) and 2) serve as a community. A SafeFamilies "Circle of Support" is made up of FamilyCoaches, Family Friends, and Resource Friends,who are often in a small group or class together, orotherwise relationally connected through theirchurch. The opportunity for spiritual growth anddiscipleship is limitless! As Safe Families becomes alocal church's ministry, that church now has adynamic way to serve its community. Safe Familiesis a big, important step beyond a backpack, diaper,or food drive as the chance to personally impactlives is presented. What is the relationship with thelocal church? Safe Families in a “pro-church” ministry. Thismeans that our desire is for local churches to adoptSafe Families as one of their internal local outreachministries. The local Safe Families chapter thenprovides all of the training, screening, resourcingand support your church and the volunteers needto succeed. The Safe Families Chapter will alsohandle all of the referral calls, screen them andconnect appropriate needs to your churchvolunteers.
S A F E F A M I L I E S S U N D A Y 2 0 2 3 | P A G E 9 What does it look like for my churchcan be involved? The first component is embracing the value of SafeFamilies and how it can add value to your local churchministry. Our local Safe Families staff will workalongside your key leadership to help your churchprogressively deepen your partnership, serving,growth, and impact. The best model is to identify and recruit a volunteerMinistry Lead and Leadership Team that will bear theresponsibility of recruiting, training, and supportingthe ministry. The team is supported and resourced bythe local Safe Families chapter. A partnership withSafe Families includes: developing a Safe FamiliesMinistry Lead Team, recruiting and developingvolunteer Circles of Support and providing internaland external financial support for the Safe Familiesministry. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSIs the church liable for any unforeseencircumstances or difficult situations? Every Safe Families chapter has a sponsoring faith-basedministry that is providing supervision, training, andfacilitating background checks. Safe Families volunteersare legally volunteers of our organization, and weprovide the necessary liability coverage to safely hostchildren in your home.How is Safe Families funded?Through a combination of generous individual donors,church partners, foundations, and various grants. Somechapters secure contracts with regional or stateauthorities to work alongside existing child welfareagencies. Due to our volunteer nature, we are able tokeep the cost of Safe Families very affordable. Donationsto Safe Families are viewed as an investment inprevention of child neglect and abuse. We are able tooperate at approximately 10% of the cost of a child inthe foster care system.
THE CHURCH AND CHILD PROTECTION The Role of the Church in Keeping Children Safe and Families TogetherThroughout history, the Church has played a significant role in protecting children. It stemsfrom the commands in the Gospel and throughout the Bible to care for the most vulnerablepeople group in our society. For example, the Bible states that human beings are created inthe image and likeness of God, and thus, should be treated with care and respect. It alsostates that special care should be provided to those in need.The early church was fully involved in engaging society and significantly supporting the “leastof these.” The practice of offering care to strangers (hospitality) became a distinguishingcharacteristic of the early church. As described in detail by Christine Pohl in her book, MakingRoom – Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition, Christians became known for theiracts of kindness and service. For example, babies born “deformed” or of the “wrong” sexwere discarded on the waste heaps outside the city in a practice called exposing. TheChristians would gather the unwanted babies and raise them as if they were their own. InThe Trouble With Jesus, Joseph Stowell cites writer Tertullian (AD 200): “It is our care of thehelpless, our practice of loving-kindness that brands us in the eyes of many of ouropponents.” Among the groups identified in the Bible as being in special need are children. Care for andprotection of children has been a central expression of the Christian faith throughout history. In the early church, care for vulnerable children was to be the responsibility of the entireChristian community, from financial support to adoption. Still today, many religiousorganizations are engaged in nurturing and protecting children.Prior to the development of government-run child protection systems in the United States inthe 1940s and 1950s, many of the organizations involved in child welfare were church- ordenomination-based ministries. With the advent of government-run child protection systems,law and policy dictated that state child welfare agencies provide services to abused andneglected children. Most of these services, however, are provided only to children who havesuffered blatant abuse or neglect. Thus, millions of children and their families remain indifficult situations without prevention or intervention services. Many families, even when they are doing "all the right things" are just one crisis away frommajor instability in their lives. Under-resourced communities leave families in the throes ofhospitalization, unemployment, incarceration, substance abuse recovery, and other crisesrelated to poverty without the resources and support to care for their children. Thesechildren are then at risk for trauma, abuse, and neglect. S A F E F A M I L I E S S U N D A Y 2 0 2 3 | P A G E 1 0
The foster care system is overloaded with an estimated 425,000 youth and climbing, 70%of which may not even need to be there. The number of incoming children is outpacing thenumber exiting, with 270,000+ children entering every year, more than half of whom arenever reunited with their families as they were removed because of neglect.During these times of crisis, many parents cannot provide a safe and caring environmentfor their children. In the past, extended family often stepped in to support parents bytaking care of children for short periods of time. Also, neighbors came alongside familiesduring crises. Today, however, many families in poverty are socially isolated and theirextended family is non-existent or not available. Given the volume of at-risk families, child protective services (foster care) cannot be theonly entity addressing these problems and certainly cannot intervene upstream to preventthe problem. Before an initial child abuse allegation is filed or between the initialunsubstantiated report and subsequent re-reports lay opportunities to support thesestruggling families and to stop the trajectory of pressure that leads to abuse and neglect. If social isolation (parent has no one to call for help) is the primary driver of child abuse, theChurch holds the primary solution, radical hospitality, and disruptive generosity. The simpleacts of befriending parents who have no one to turn to, opening your home to a child thatis in a risky situation, sharing our time and possessions can prevent child abuse and changethe entire trajectory of a family. We have seen this done over 50,000 times. Churches have joined Safe Families to buildthis massive safety net in over 120 communities in the US and hundreds more in the UKand Canada. Through Safe Families, the Church helps weave a strong safety net thatcatches children and their families before child abuse occurs and forced removals arerequired. Families in churches are one of our society's most powerful change agents whenliving out the discipline of radical hospitality, disruptive generosity, and intentionalcompassion. Our actions are inspired by our faith, and I appreciate your steadfast commitment to comealongside families by being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ!By Dr. Dave AndersonFounder of Safe Families for ChildrenS A F E F A M I L I E S S U N D A Y 2 0 2 3 | P A G E 1 1