Who we are

Safe Families for Children is an innovative collaboration between area churches, volunteers and child care professionals designed to support at-risk children and parents in need. Safe Families for Children is an opportunity for volunteers to have a powerful impact in the lives of others while practicing biblical hospitality and extending the love of Christ to people in need — all from their own home!

Safe Families is a movement of compassion designed to reduce child abuse and return the church to the forefront of caring for children, as it had been throughout history. Developed by most States in the 1940’s and ‘50’s, the child welfare system is relatively new. The concept of the government protecting children from their parents is roughly only one generation old. Prior to this, the church and other faith driven organizations were at the forefront of caring for vulnerable children.

Today, as resource limitations and legal constraints of the government restrict society’s ability to meet these needs, the church is reemerging as a champion for vulnerable families. But we need your help.

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Safe Families Olive Crest

Who We Help

Sadly, with the changing economy, many more families are experiencing financial crisis, unemployment or homelessness. Others are dealing with family violence, parental drug and/or alcohol abuse, illness, or incarceration. During such crises, many parents are not capable of providing a safe and caring environment for their children. Historically, extended family often stepped in to support parents by taking care of children for short periods of time, and churches and neighbors came alongside families in crisis.

Today, many urban families are socially isolated and their extended family is non-existent or not available. The children in a family traumatized by crisis become especially at risk for neglect or abuse as their parents struggle to cope with crushing circumstances and emotions.

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How it works

Parents experiencing a temporary crisis can arrange for their children (newborn through 18 years old) to stay with Safe Families volunteers while they address the issues that led to the instability in their lives.  Safe Families volunteers are supervised by their area church, which in turn is supported by professional child care specialists. Children are matched with families in their own community whenever possible, and placements average from one day to three months. During that time, Safe Families caseworkers are available to provide volunteers with support and answer any questions they might have.

Volunteers open their homes to children whose parents are experiencing a short-term emergency, such as hospitalization, or a longer-term crisis, such as drug abuse. Designed to extend and strengthen the community safety net for at-risk families, Safe Families is a positive alternative to the state child welfare system, allowing parents to work out their problems without having to worry about losing custody of their children.

The program’s goal is to reunite children with their biological parent(s) in a home that is more stable and healthy, in part because of the contribution of the Safe Families intervention.

Biological parents maintain custody during the placement and are encouraged to be actively involved in their children’s lives, as well as develop a relationship with the volunteer family. Safe Families caseworkers keep in close contact with the parents in planning for a healthy reunification of the family.
When crisis strikes, many of us rely on relatives and our church family for support. But for some parents, there isn’t a safety net. Often problems such as illness, drug addiction, domestic abuse, or unemployment can be debilitating, making it impossible for parents to care for their children.

Positive family reunification is our number one priority, and through Safe Families over 95% of children have been returned to their biological parents and have been deflected from state custody.

  • Biological parents maintain full custody
  • Volunteer families are recruited, trained, and supported
  • Six-week average length of stay (ranging from two days to a year)
  • Close working relationships between Safe Families, the local church, and the referring organization
  • Commitment to reunite the family as soon as possible
  • Fully funded by private donations

Safe Families for Children expands the community safety net by providing parents in need on their own, or at the recommendation of a caseworker, with a loving sanctuary where they can safely place their children in times of crisis. Host families prompted solely by compassion are screened, trained, and serve without compensation. Designed to positively impact and support at-risk families, Safe Families is a non-coercive alternative to the state child welfare system, allowing parents to work out their problems without having to worry about losing custody of their child. Safe Families is a collaborative effort bringing together a network of churches, ministries, and social service providers for a common goal—to reunite children with their biological parent(s) in a home that is more stable and healthy. Relying on the strengths and drawing upon the expertise of each of these organizations, host families are supported, educated, and regularly visited to ensure the experience is successful for everyone involved.


The Safe Families Project strives to meet these objectives

Early Intervention: Safe Families provides a safe alternative to child welfare custody. Families are given time to address risk factors in their lives that, if left unattended, could result in substantiated abuse or neglect of children.

Child Abuse Prevention: Safe Families provides an overwhelmed and resource-limited parent with a safe, temporary place for their child without threat of losing custody can avert potential abuse/neglect episodes.

Family Support and Stabilization: Many parents struggle because of limited informal social supports and unavailable extended family. Many Safe Families become the extended family that a parent never had.

Are you ready to help?

We can’t do this alone. We work with local area churches and volunteers! Safe Families for Children provides a loving sanctuary where parents can safely and voluntarily place their children in times of need. Founded in 2003 by LYDIA Home Association, a Chicago-based Christian social service organization, Safe Families for Children has partnered with the local church to grow a network of over 4,000 volunteer families and has served over 17,000 families in crisis to date. Successfully established in 26 states, Olive Crest leads Safe Families for Children to provide homes of refuge for children in California, Nevada, and Washington.

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Become a Safe Family Supporter

Safe Families is a donor-funded program. Gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations, churches and organizations provide the resources necessary to implement the Safe Families program. To make a gift,

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Become a Safe Family


To become a Safe Family or to get connected with a Safe Families for Children church, call 1.800.550.CHILD x1234.

Pacific Northwest

For more information on the program or to sign up as a Safe Family, please fill out an interest form.

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Request a Church or Agency Presentation ▸