SAFE ROOMS ACROSS TENNESSEE
Safe Rooms are designated spaces, typically within churches, for children waiting for placement in a foster home or kinship home. Each child-friendly Safe Room is filled with couches, toys, games, food, showers, and a place to take a nap. The children are supervised by staff and/or certified volunteers who give the child undivided attention. Without a Safe Room, oftentimes a child sits in a cubicle with their child welfare worker, listening to their story told to prospective placement families, again and again, further traumatizing the child.
Through the strategic development of Safe Rooms, we will see churches across Tennessee, and even the Nation, develop a heart for these vulnerable children in crisis. Additional trauma to the child/children will be reduced as the faith-community is engaged to show up and hold space for these children. And, we believe, hearts will be opened for greatness because of love.
Safe Room Story
The Safe Room was established in July 2009 when a Nashville pediatrician and board member of TAK's founding Alliance, the Middle Tennessee Orphan Alliance, Eve Bogar, learned about the "traditional" way children were waiting for placement. Eve helped establish the first Safe Room at a local church.
The Safe Room then moved to the DCS Resource Linkage office where it was used successfully each week as a way to help reduce the trauma to children who come into custody because of child abuse and/or child neglect.
The Safe Rooms are filled with couches, board games, books, arts and craft supplies, TV, DVD players, video game systems, toys for all age groups, baby walkers, snacks, bottled water, baby formula, diapers, pack and plays and beds for those needing some rest.
All of the items are donated, so there is no cost to the State for this project.
A welcome outcome of the Safe Room is that volunteers are forming relationships with the children.
Volunteers are able to attend Child and Family Team Meetings (CFTM) as a support to the child. During the holidays, volunteers have sponsored children they have met during the year and have maintained some kind of ongoing, positive experiences with the children.
DCS says, "This humble but powerful community of volunteers is making a positive and lasting impact in our local child welfare system. Our success is dependent on them and we cherish these partnerships. We love to have staff from other counties come by and see The Safe Rooms. It is an amazing project that we hope is duplicated in other regions."
How can you help:
Regardless of your age, time or finances you can make difference to a child in Foster Care. Every single act of kindness or donation has impact.
There are countless ways for YOU to get involveD
▪Drop off a much-needed item at one of our Safe Rooms, such as a package of diapers, socks or underwear in all sizes, or a gift card.
▪Organize a drive through your church, work place or neighborhood to provide diapers, formula, and wipes to new mothers or to stock a Safe Room with supplies. Contact TAK to determine current needs.
▪If you are short on time, make a monetary donation to TAK.
▪Become a certified volunteer who can volunteer to be with foster children in one of the Safe Rooms.
▪Motivate your church to offer space for a Safe Room.
▪Spread the word through your social media to friends, family and co-workers about the growing needs of children in foster care. Re-post Facebook messages or tweets by TAK!
Bag/luggage drives: Organize a luggage drive to give children moving around in foster care something to put their things in. One Middle Tennessee program called "Bags of Love" gives a large (sometimes homemade) drawstring bag or pillowcase as a bag filled with items for children coming into foster care. Examples of what bags can contain include: a handmade quilt or blanket, age appropriate toys and items, a pillow, and personal hygiene items. These bags are provided to children from newborn to 18 who come into foster care. The children really appreciate that someone made them a quilt or blanket of their very own.
Churches and faith based groups
▪Faith leaders can have a significant impact on children in Foster Care by offering space and asking church members to provide and manage a Safe Room.
▪Motivate your congregation to provide items that are needed by other Safe Rooms, foster children and parents.
▪Offer to host a special event for foster children in your area, such as a Christmas party, providing snacks, drinks, gifts and activities at your church.
▪Take up a special collection at a church service to donate to TAK.
▪Spread the word through your church communication tools and social media about the growing needs of children in foster care. Re-post Facebook messages or tweets by TAK!