About two years ago, one of our host families began a hosting for Brittany*, a young single mom. A natural friendship began, and the families kept in touch with each other after the placement was over.
When COVID hit hard in the spring of 2020, Brittany’s small business (a hair salon) was struggling. Remote learning had become the norm, Brittany’s sole source of income was at risk, and she needed help with childcare to eek out a living. So she reached out for support from the same Safe Families hosts who had cared for her kids before.
Ironically, this host family had shied away from becoming official “Family Friends” because they feared it might be too labor-intensive or too much of a time commitment. However, they soon realized it was much more natural than they initially thought to simply step up and help Brittany and her kids for a few hours each week. And a bonus for them was that the host family’s kids were thrilled to see their “old friends” again.
Justin Dallison of Salem, Oregon’s Catholic Community Services shares how this natural friendship is the earliest form of intervention — making a huge difference for families facing an unexpected crisis, which often puts kids at risk. But he explains how getting involved in practical ways doesn’t have to be complicated.
Family Friends can strengthen Host Families by providing meals, respite care, transportation, etc. They encourage and strengthen families in crisis so that they may thrive. Performing small tasks, such as dropping off diapers or babysitting for a few hours, provides families with support and builds relationships.
Justin adds, “This isn’t rocket science: It’s just being people. It was simple, and that’s what Safe Families is all about. We have something to offer and we’re going to do it, because it’s the right thing to do.”
To learn more about becoming a Family Friend or practical ways that you can help support and stabilize families in a crisis, visit us at safe-families.org/involvement/family-friend/.
* Name changed for this story.