MARION, IL (KFVS)—They say it takes a village to raise a child and some Illinois churches hope to become that village for children of families in crisis.
“Many have no extended family and then what do they do in a crisis? We’ll be there,” said Dr. Jerry Ford with First Baptist Church of Marion.
The First Baptist Church of Marion is starting a new program locally to help families. The Safe Families for Children program is a national push to help families in crisis get back on their feet.
“This is not foster care, our goal is to get parents and children back together as soon as possible,” said Ford.
The program is designed to step in and offer kids a safe place when parents are experiencing financial difficulty, homelessness, domestic abuse, illness, depression or any other problem.
“There are a lot of situations that can happen in life,” said Youth Pastor David Seaton of Immanuel Baptist Church in Benton, Illinois.
Pastor Seaton says his congregation helped its first family six weeks ago when a single mother of four needed help.
“We found out they were homeless,” Seaton said. “The mother approached us about getting a hotel room, but we wanted to help more because we felt nothing would change in three days.”
The children and mother were placed with pre-screened families and provided for until the mother could find new housing. They’re now back together as a family and in a much better situation.
“I feel like if you can open up your home to a child that has nowhere to go for one day or one year, that’s living love for others,” said Seaton. “That’s what churches should be doing.”
That’s the goal of the nationwide safe families program; to get kids out of a crisis while adults get through it.
Organizers say that could prevent situations of abuse or neglect where child welfare authorities may have to get involved.
“Then Children and Family Services could focus on the children that really don’t have parents anymore because their parents are dead or in prison or whatever the case may be,” Seaton said.
The First Baptist Church of Marion is hosting a training session on July 8 from 4 p.m. To 7 p.m. Call (618) 997-9386.
Date: June 14, 2012