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Introducing Safe Families: An Interview with Rebekah Dorris

Updated: Nov 12



Introducing Safe Families: An Interview with Rebekah Dorris

Waypoint will soon be partnering with the ministry Safe Families for Children. Rebekah Dorris is excited to be volunteering with this ministry as a liaison between Waypoint and SFFC. One of her first tasks was to answer a few questions for all of us.

1. So what exactly is Safe Families for Children? What do they do?

Safe Families for Children (SFFC) is a national movement that weaves Christian community and extended family-like support around families in crisis. This can look like meeting short-term needs as families get back on their feet or hosting children while parents address issues such as homelessness, unemployment, or treatment for substance-use. SFFC has been around since 2003; there is a local chapter in Raleigh, but they have recently had more interest in the Durham area from families in need, allowing for Durham to start its own chapter. Safe Families operates by engaging churches and raising up volunteers from within the church to display radical hospitality to our community. It is our hope, as the body of Christ at Waypoint, to be part of the solution to families in our community who are struggling under the strain of challenging circumstances or COVID-19 (here’s an article from this summer about how Safe Families is involved in other states during this time).

2. How is Safe Families different from foster care?

Because families are voluntarily involved and typically self-referred, it is meant to redirect families before government involvement, helping to support vulnerable families so that they can stay together in the long run. It doesn’t take the place of foster care but acts as prevention for some families who may be at risk of their children being removed from the home. While the result is children living with another family, parents are more involved than they would be in a foster care placement, and children have the continued security of their parent being the decision-maker.

3. What will your role be with SFFC at Waypoint? Why did you feel called to be a part of SFFC in this way?

I am volunteering as the Ministry Lead at Waypoint, which basically means that I will be the go-between for SFFC and the volunteers at Waypoint - helping connect families-in-crisis with a host family and supporting our volunteers as they serve. I’m really excited about this role because it incorporates a few of my passions: mobilizing and equipping churches to serve their community well and protecting vulnerable children and serving their families. In college, I served as a volunteer coordinator for a similar ministry that raised up churches to place teams around foster families to serve and love them while they answered the call to foster. Seeing the interdenominational body of Christ working together to care for the most vulnerable in their community was beautiful, and SFFC has a similar goal and strategy. As we partner with Safe Families, I am praying that our church is strengthened by our members loving on each other as we serve together and that shines out to families who desperately need love, family, and community.

4. What are some different ways Waypoint members can be a part of this ministry? How can we pray?

Below is a list of ways to be involved in this ministry and a description of each. Each volunteer role helps to establish a support system for families who don’t have one as well as church members who are able to serve as Host Families, lightening the load and allowing more of the church to be involved. There are links with more information on each role so that you can do your own research if one of these speaks to you.

Host Families welcome children into their home until the family is out of crisis and can continue the relationship to support the family as they move forward. These families are supported by Family Coaches and Family Friends from within our church community to meet the needs of the Host Family as well as the family in crisis.

Family Friends are volunteers who support the family in crisis by providing meals or transportation, mentoring the children, or other small tasks that strengthen families and care for the Host Family.

Resource Friends are volunteers who provide goods and services which the family in crisis may need, meeting the material needs of the family.

Family Coaches are volunteers who are there to support and coach Host Families and monitor the safety and progress towards goals of the family in crisis. This is a role for those with experience in child welfare and is an important component of the network of care that Host Families will experience.

We would love prayer for Waypoint as we mobilize and prepare to support families in our community through Safe Families. Pray for volunteers (and for God to speak if this is something He is calling you, your family, or your small group to be a part of). Pray for Safe Families in Durham, that churches across Durham would rise up to love and serve together in this way. And especially be praying for vulnerable families all across Durham right now who are struggling without support, that God would draw near to them and surround them with a caring community of his people.

The model of the church coming around families in need is a beautiful and tangible way to be the hands and feet of Jesus to Durham. No matter what you or your family’s capacity or gifts, there is a place for you in the Safe Families model.

If you are interested in knowing more please reach out to Megan at megan@waypointrdu.com or sign up for our information session on November 21 at 2 PM.

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