It is no question that every family in the U.S. has been hit hard one way or another this year. While our experiences during the pandemic are not all the same, everyone has had struggles and challenges.
Today, I am partnering with SAFY (Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth) to share some information about children experiencing foster care, and children in foster care eligible for adoption. Foster families and children in the foster care system have been hit especially hard this year.
In working with SAFY, I learned a lot about the needs and how the community can support foster care and adoption. I wanted to provide a little bit of information with you in hopes that you may feel compelled to help or share this resource with others!
Who is SAFY?
SAFY (Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth) is a child and family nonprofit preserving families and securing futures Through family preservation, therapeutic foster care, behavioral health and other family supports. SAFY has many different services for families including:
Therapeutic Foster Care:
When a child has to be removed from their home because of abuse or neglect, it is critical that they have a loving, safe foster family to provide a stable home environment. People of all backgrounds are welcome to become foster parents including single, married, same sex couples, retired, and divorced adults. Foster parents are equipped with the tools to help children deal with the possible trauma and stress in the children’s lives. The SAFY clinical staff helps support parents provide mental, physical and emotional safety to their foster children.
Adoption Services (Foster to Adopt):
Adopting children from foster care is a unique journey for those considering adoption, and SAFY helps bridge the process of adoption for foster care families. Most children from foster care who are available for adoption are typically in the age range of toddler to 21. The median age is eight years old. Those foster parents who seek adoption of youth undergo a specific program to help understand the effects of trauma and help children to heal in the strong family setting.
Family Preservation and Reunification:
Major life obstacles can certainly challenge the strongest family foundations. There is not a play book for how to have navigated this past year. SAFY works with families to help build a strong base to handle what life throws at them. By having a strong foundation, families are better able to weather tough storms – helping families stay together and reducing stays in foster care.
We know mental health is more important than ever. SAFY provides mental health counseling to youth, individuals and families in a wide range of setting including school, home and community. There is even tele-health counseling.
Older Youth Services:
As youth get closer to adulthood, they age out of the foster care program. SAFY gives teens the tools they need to make that successful transition into adulthood. These services include educational services, job training and other life skills.
SAFY is a large umbrella to a whole host of services for children and families and serves families right here in the Cleveland community.
What unique challenges has the pandemic brought to foster care families?
Some of the challenges the pandemic has brought to foster care families is difficulty with visitation with biological families due to concerns about transmitting the virus. Like many children, many of our youth experiencing foster care were doing school virtually for months, and had the same feelings of isolation. Additionally, foster parents had the challenges of being a caregiver, school teacher and working.
How You Can Help
They say “it takes a village to raise a child,” and that saying is especially true for organizations supporting children and families like SAFY. If you’re like me and feel a tug at your heartstrings wanting to ensure all children have a safe and loving home, there are several ways you can get involved with and support SAFY.
Become a Foster Parent
There has been an increased need in the foster care system since the start of the pandemic. Perhaps you know of someone that foster care might be a good fit, and perhaps that is you. SAFY is continually looking for foster parents. Take the Foster Care assessment to see if you might be a good fit for the program. You can make a big difference in the life of a child.
Or maybe you feel compelled to help through donation and support of SAFY.
If you’re not able to become a foster parent, you can still support youth experiencing foster care through making a donation to support youth enrichment needs with camps, extracurricular activities, back to school supplies and the like. You can also support by volunteering with SAFY.
Make a Referral
By just having an awareness of what this special population of children and families are facing right now might be the driver to help in some way or another! Perhaps you know someone that can benefit from these services, or a family who is considering becoming a foster parent or learning more about adopting through foster care.
You can head the SAFY website to learn more today!
I was so honored to have the opportunity to share this wonderful organization. I appreciate learning about what other families are going through right now and it puts my own life in perspective!
Thank you to SAFY’s Cleveland Recruiters Zelma Brown and Lisa Barham for helping provide insight to support this post!