“I’ve spent most of my professional life working with children and families involved in the child welfare system. In 1996, I did my doctoral research on the impact of child abuse on the psychological function of children. I was concerned about the long-lasting trauma children suffer long after their bodies physically recovered. I wondered, “Was there a way to prevent the tragedies of child abuse and neglect? Could the Church be the answer to helping families in crisis stabilize and thrive?”
When the Lord gave me the idea of Safe Families for Children, I knew social isolation to be one of the most signifcant factors contributing to child abuse and neglect. Most parents need this kind of help but few have family and friends to turn to in their moment of crisis.
I remember sending a letter to then Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley describing the idea of Safe Families and the need for a safety net in Chicago for vulnerable children. Mayor Daley assigned B.J. Walker, who at that time was Director of Human Infrastructure for the City of Chicago, to help us get started.
After receiving the green light from Mayor Daley, he suggested I meet with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to get their blessing. So in 2003, I met with the DCFS Deputy Director who initially said that it was the best idea he has ever heard! However, he then said it would never work. He said we would be a complete failure. When I asked why his answer troubled me. He said, “Children are not valuable in our society unless their your own or you adopt them. In America, people only look after what they own (their own). Nobody will look after someone else’s child without getting paid. We can’t even pay people enough money (foster care) to care for someone else’s children.” He went on to say, “and these are people of faith you mention, they only protest things, they don’t do anything proactive.”
From those early days of doubts and setbacks, it hasn’t always been an easy road. But the Lord has provided all we needed at the moment we needed it. The Lord has continued to bless our efforts as we’ve overcome various legal hurdles and financial barriers.
When my wife and I started what is now known as Safe Families for Children, we had high hopes. We knew that there had to be a better way to do child welfare. To impact those families in crisis whose children were on the edge of entering foster care and susceptible to abuse or neglect.
Safe Families for Children was born out of the need to keep children safe, keep families intact, and reduce the need for foster care. Today, I’m proud to say our volunteers and staff have been surrounding families in crisis with caring, compassionate community.
Nearly 15 years and over 35,000 hostings later, we are now present in over hundreds of cities across the country and even birthed two sister organizations in the UK and Canada!
Through this movement we’re enabling the Church to return to its historic role of caring for the orphan and the widow. Now churches of all sizes play roles in providing for the less fortunate families in their communities.
It’s an exciting time for Safe Families for Children as we continue to grow and care for the most vulnerable among us, our children. The challenges we face are great, but we are grateful for the privilege to serve our neighbors with the love of Christ!
Thank you for 15 glorious years!”
Dr. Dave Anderson
Founder & Executive Director
Safe Families for Children