Volunteers Help Relaunch Boise Services

by | May 4, 2021 | Child Welfare, Family Support

Our new Safe Families for Children chapter in Boise started April 1. Volunteer Host Families go through background checks and training before they can host children for families who are experiencing a crisis. Two program volunteers, Emily Erickson (left) and Sarah Gust, fingerprint potential Host Families.

All volunteers make a difference. Some are a necessity with certain human services.

Volunteers made it possible to relaunch our services in Idaho. As of April 1, 2021, LCS Northwest re-established our Idaho services with the start of Safe Families for Children in Treasure Valley (Boise).

Safe Families for Children in Treasure Valley is a child-abuse prevention program that operates mostly through volunteers. Safe Families has 128 chapters nationally, including an established chapter in our Yamhill County District.

“Our entire team is really excited,” Idaho District Director Jessica Ruehrwein said prior to the launch. “We don’t know how extensive the needs are but our families are stepping up to build a safety net for other families.”

Safe Families works to keep children safe and families together in times of crisis. It is a faith-based volunteer-dependent movement. Families host children and provide a network of support while parents in need are given the time to get back on their feet. In addition to Host Families, there are Family Friends and Family Coaches who connect parents to resources and offer guidance.

All three roles are volunteers who come from participating churches. Volunteers receive training and Host families must pass background checks. Safe Families is different from foster care because placing children into host homes is the sole discretion of the parents, Host families are not financially compensated and parents maintain full custody of their children.

So far, Jessica’s team has signed up four churches. Her team is also made up of volunteers and a Boise State University intern, as Jessica is the lone paid employee.

“Our volunteers are the heart and soul of what we do,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”

For the past year, Jessica’s team built the infrastructure behind Safe Families, including forging partnerships, managing risk, and working on legislation that supports Safe Families operating in Idaho. There are few services for families facing crisis in Idaho. 

Safe Families of Treasure Valley Idaho had six Host Families approved at program launch. Jessica’s team will work to find operational funding and more volunteers.