ORANGE CITY, IOWA (KTIV) – Poverty, addiction recovery, homelessness, unemployment. These are all circumstances that impact families right here in Siouxland.
A local program is looking to help families going through tough times. Safe Families For Children allows parents to receive emergency care for their children with the help of a host family.
“It’s kind of been teaching our kids that we can be the hands and feet of Christ in our own house,” said host mom, Sarah Mulder.
For about five years Sarah Mulder and her husband Jordan have been making a difference in children’s lives, serving as a host family for Bethany Christian Service’s Safe Families for Children Program in Orange City, Iowa.
“The need is great,” said Jean DenOuden, Safe Families Coordinator. “They just need someone to step in and host their children for a short amount of time.”
The program looks to help parents find a safe place for their children while they work through difficult situations like a medical procedure, losing a job, or finding housing if they have lost their home.
“Each situation is different,” said DenOuden. “It could go from one day, up to a year. People who are in crisis, it takes a lot to reach out to Safe Families to ask for help. So you know they have kind of hit a wall where they don’t know what to do.”
That’s where Safe Families for Children comes in. The family contacts Bethany Christian Services and DenOuden contacts people throughout five churches in Sioux, Woodbury, and Plymouth counties. Church members will then connect DenOuden to a host family.
“They are foremost parents themselves,” said DenOuden.
“It’s actually fairly easy,” said Mulder. “Kids are really resilient and most of them are OK with change. We have four kids at our house and that kind of helps a lot.”
Mulder said it takes a lot of flexibility. Sometimes they’ll get a lot of warning about hosting and other times it can be just an hour. But, she hopes the kids and parents know, they always have a safe house and a friend to come to.
“Just accepting kids and families as they are without judging their backgrounds and where they’re at in life, but just that we can love them and accept them,” Mulder said.
DenOuden said they’ve been able to help more than 16 families this year.
If your church would like to become involved in this program, or you as an individual would like to become a host family, you can contact Bethany Christian Services at (712) 737-4831 or visit their website.