Thousands of kids are falling through the cracks between child protective services and the foster care system—or stuck in homes where sporadic abuse creates havoc.

In the middle of these needs is a growing ministry called Safe Families for Children, providing support for children and their parents in times of crisis and chaos. David Anderson, founder of Safe Families for Children, shares important aspects to preventing the need for foster care.

We learn more about about preventing the need for foster care by recognizing that there are alternative safety nets for children.

“One of the things we want to do is to help keep kids out of foster care, and stay out of foster care if they don’t really need to be in foster care. Now certainly, families can be so challenged that they need the coercion and all the stuff that occurs in foster care, but if those families don’t and they can be helped in other community and neighborly-based ways, we should do that.”

David wrote his doctoral thesis on child abuse and why parents abuse their kids. He helps us understand the dangers of child abuse and where Safe Families can step in as a safe place for children.

“Once a child is harmed, it’s often difficult for kids to overcome that. God made our bodies to recover from broken bones and things like that, but sometimes the scars that are occurring at the hand of your parents can be very, very difficult to overcome. If we can intervene and prevent those stressful situations from occurring, in the long run it’s good for kids. We want to prevent harm that might occur to kids.

Many of the children in our communities are not in danger of being harmed; they are just in need of a loving neighbor and safe place they can go if need be.

“There are families in our neighborhood that are just struggling and they just need support. They’re not about to harm their kids, their kids aren’t about to go into foster care, but they just are struggling with the demands of life, and being a good enough parent for their kids. Those are the ones we want to be able to support as well… if we can have a child in a safe place; provide a break for a parent, and resources to help them get back on their feet, that child and that parent would be in a better place.”

Safe Families understands the importance of geographical proximity in order to maintain close relationships, even after kids are brought back to their biological or adoptive parents.

“It’s not ten days, or the twenty days that the child is out of the home, but it’s a relationship that occurs between the two families that continues after kids are returned home. That is most likely to occur when there isn’t a nice huge geographic chasm between them.”

Highlight: Preventing the need for foster care

Protecting God’s children