BEND, OR -- A new partnership between Bend’s faith community and J Bar J Youth Services is working to keep local kids out of foster care. Safe Families for Children’s Central Oregon chapter launched earlier this year, and is now working to get more people involved.
Chris Earwicker is one of three women who helped bring the national program to Bend. "If you look at it like a river, the families who end up with their children taken from them into foster care are those that go over a waterfall and just shatter on the rocks," Earwicker says. "Safe Families is the faith community throwing a net across the river just above the falls, and hopefully catching some families before they get to that point."
Families are referred to the program through DHS or other agencies, and are often struggling with stressful circumstances. "Once DHS is involved, Safe Families can’t function in that particular situation," Earwicker says. "So if there’s abuse, neglect or threat of harm then DHS does come in. But there are many cases that are reported every year to DHS; DHS investigates and there’s not enough cause to take the kids. Those are the families we’re really targeting."
Safe Families is hosting an informational session Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m., followed by an afternoon training at New Hope Church in Bend. Lunch is provided. For more information, or to sign up for the event, call 541-788-3151.
To hear our full conversation with Chris Earwicker, visit our podcast page