join us in helping struggling families achieve sustainable independence and stability
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Since 2009, 601 children have been identified as Homeless/Displaced in our Tift County Schools along with 38 unaccompanied minors identified. For the 201-2018 academic year 50 children were identified as Homeless.
Family Promise is a community-based response to family homelessness. To participate, a family must already reside in the locality and have at least one child in the family unit. There is a limit of 14 participants total at a given time because a 15-passenger van is used for transportation. Local host churches take turns providing food and lodging for the families one week at a time. Family Promise provides portable beds and bedding, and volunteers help families move to the next church at the end of the week. In the mornings, families are transported to a Day Center, staffed by a full-time caseworker, from which children go to school and parents/guardians go to work or search for work. In the afternoon, everyone returns to the Day Center to be transported back to the host church for supper and sleep. Sometimes host churches provide an activity or assist kids with homework. Support churches assist with meals and volunteers. The caseworker helps families move forward into sustainable housing situations, providing them with resources, connections, and education to make needed changes in their lives.
Just to get the program off the ground we need volunteers to help in fund raising, resource acquisitions and recruitment. We need 3 more churches to commit to being Host Churches with adequate volunteers to staff their week. Our current 7 host churches are willing to start hosting and take an extra week as soon as 3 more churches have signed. Ideally having 13 Churches allows each Church to host families 1 week 4 times per year or once a quarter. Our 7 current host churches are willing to take an extra week as soon as the 3 additional churches commit and until a total of 13 churches are committed, because they see the need for this ministry in our community. Material items needed include funds to pay our social worker and operational costs, a building for the day center and a 15 passenger van.
Two weeks before the affiliate opens, the director meets with potential referring agencies-school system, shelters, public assistance offices, the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army. The director describes the program and provides printed material on how to make referrals. The director may also meet with local law enforcement, healthcare facilities, other churches that are not part of the affiliate, any agency or service that may come into contact with a family experiencing homelessness.
When a homeless family seeks shelter through an agency, a social worker conducts a brief interview and may contact the Affiliate director to find out if space is available. If the answer is yes, and if the family seems appropriate for the program, the agency refers the family to the day center. At the day center, the director conducts an in-depth interview and background checks and drug screens for the adult members of the family before accepting the family.
Ideally, an affiliate has 13 host congregations; you want to start with that number of hosts in place, but some open with fewer, generally at least 10. Fewer than that could overtax some congregations, jeopardizing their participation. Having more than 13 can dilute the experience for congregations, resulting in a loss of continuity and focus. With less experienced volunteers, a network would be harder to operate, and recruitment of volunteers would be more difficult.
Families live their lives as normally as possible. During the week, parents go to work or search for
work, and children go to school or daycare. Family Promise does not provide childcare. On the
weekends, families might enjoy quality time together at the host church or in the
Affiliates usually purchase a van, or a van is loaned or donated to the affiliate. Some affiliates contract with a transportation company that takes care of the van, driver, insurance, and maintenance.
Facilities ideally include a lounge area with sofa, chairs, tables, TV, a dining area, a kitchen, bathrooms, and sleeping accommodations. If possible, congregations provide a separate room, such as a classroom, for each family. If that isn't possible, a fellowship hall or other large room can be divided by partitions to provide privacy. Bathing facilities are not required as the Day Center provides this.
Churches are busy places with many demands on their space. Rarely does a perfect space exist. Hosting almost always means making some scheduling adjustments for activities and meetings. For example, four or five times a year, AA or the Bible Study Group may need to move their Tuesday night meeting to another room.
The Guest Guidelines call for 30 day contracts with a maximum of 90 days in the program. However, local directors can extend the stay as long as families are making good faith efforts to find housing. In some communities, families can find housing within 30 days. In other communities-where there is a severe shortage of low-income housing, and waiting lists for public housing and Section 8 are closed-finding a home can take 60 days or more. The average length of stay in the program is 75 days. The social worker in determining whether to extend a stay bases the decision on multiple factors including current housing availability, the family’s reasons for the homelessness, other resources the family may need to sustain their housing, job status of adults and other relevant factors. Nationally, 82% of families served will gain long-term housing within 9 weeks.
For more information about Family Promise click here. https://familypromise.org/programs/core-program/
Each local affiliate must carry general liability insurance. Congregations are usually covered by their own property and liability policies. Family Promise is considered to be an outreach ministry, a regular activity of the church like a youth sleepover or Friday night supper since the congregation is not housing families on a continual basis. Most congregations find they do not need extra insurance to be hosts. To be certain, each congregation is encouraged to contact its insurance provider prior to signing with the Affiliate to determine if an additional rider would be necessary and if so, what that cost would be for the individual congregation.
Moving every week isn't ideal, but most families say that the homelike setting and the support of volunteers more than compensate for the moving. While host congregations change every week or two, the day center remains the same, providing continuity and a home base for families as they look for housing and jobs. The day center also provides a permanent address that families can use in their housing and job searches along with services like showers and laundry facilities.
No. The Affiliate director works with the school system to ensure that all children attend school. The day center is the permanent address of the Affiliate’s children while they are in the program. Children go to the school they have been attending or to the school nearest the day center. Arrangements are made locally with the school system.
In 1987, Congress passed the McKinney - Vento Act, legislation that requires all states and school districts to provide for the education of homeless youth. Each state has developed a plan to implement the Act. Most of the state plans are flexible and allow children to attend the school they last attended or the school closest to the day center, whichever the child and parent(s) prefer. For children in Tift County, the Director of Student Services at the Tift County Board of Education has agreed to work with the Affiliate’s director to assure that children are provided for in accordance with their wishes and the federal guidelines. To learn more about the McKinney – Vento Homeless Education Act Click here. https://nche.ed.gov/legis/mv.php
First-year budgets can range from $80,000 to $100,000, depending on whether a van is purchased and whether rent must be paid for the day center. An Affiliate must have at least one third of this amount on hand before opening in order to assure insurance coverage and salary for the social worker/director.
Some Affiliates have developed in 10 months, while others have taken a year and a half, or longer. Usually, an Affiliates becomes operational about 12 to 18 months after the first Community Meeting. The most important and time-consuming part of forming an affiliate is recruiting the host congregations. Affiliates that plan for and emphasize recruitment get there faster.
You need to hire a full-time Affiliate director. A unique strength of the Affiliate program is the intensive case management that a full-time director provides to homeless families. In addition to case management, the director coordinates and trains volunteers and is responsible for the overall management of the program. Without a dedicated professional in the Affiliate, families would not receive the services that help make the program so successful.
Family Promise utilizes existing community resources and it doesn't institutionalize shelter as a solution to homelessness. It also keeps family units together, whereas most shelter separate men from the women and children. Families come in contact with a wide variety of churches and volunteers in the community, which forms a social network that can assist with finding new jobs, housing, and resources for moving forward.