Southern California Program
Olive Crest Treatment Centers
Civic and Community
Santa Ana, CA
The goal of Olive Crest’s Safe Families for Children program (Safe Families) is to prevent at risk children from entering the foster care system by providing parents in crisis with a network of support from specially trained host families. Parents safely and voluntarily place their children temporarily with host families while they seek help and the volunteer host families take in a child or siblings with no compensation or expectation of adoption since they are not foster families. The parents served through the program are often socially isolated single moms, frequently the victims of a destructive cycle of domestic violence, substance abuse and even homelessness, or experiencing other crises such as the loss of a job or an unexpected medical emergency. The help the parents receive allows them to address the issues causing the crisis, stabilize, and ultimately keep their families together. In 2015, Safe Families placed more than 640 children with 272 host families primarily in Long Beach and Orange County. Ninety-five percent of families were reunited and 85% of reunified families stay connected with their host families that provide them with a long-term support network. A grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation will support the program’s expansion in Los Angeles. Over the next three years, Safe Families will serve an additional 320 families in crisis and 960 children. Sixty more host families will be recruited through new partnerships with churches that have already expressed interest in providing volunteers for the program. Olive Crest screens and interviews each host family and sets expectations for the family regarding the temporary nature of the placements. Each host family is required to participate in six hours of training on topics such as connecting with birth parents, disciplining someone else’s child and managing the impact on their own family. A group of eight to ten volunteers helps each host family with errands, meals, transportation, babysitting and tutoring. Olive Crest’s staff, volunteer family coaches at each church and the host families will work with the biological parents to help them set goals, take practical steps toward meeting them and link them to services. The parents can reunite with their children at any time.
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