We can’t help kids until we help parents.
It’s that simple.
Better Families is the core of Better Together’s work—a civic-driven approach to protecting children and strengthening communities, one family at a time.
When a family calls for help, here’s what happens:
- Better Together’s professional staff meets the parent or parents to understand their story, needs, and objectives. The organization specializes in early intervention and works with families before they are involved with the courts and state foster care. If the family is a good match for Better Together, the process moves forward. If they are not, the staff connects the parents with organizations that can better meet their needs.
- If the parents wish to voluntarily place their children with a host family, they’ll be matched with the couple best suited to help. The family will be assigned to a Family Advocate, who serves as a liaison between the birth parents and host family and is supported by the Better Together Professional staff. Together with their Family Advocate, the birth parents and host parents agree on temporary living arrangements. There’s an estimated length of stay for the kids, but everyone understands that circumstances may change. Often, parents need less time then they think to address their challenges. Parents may arrange with host families to see their children regularly if they wish to do so. It’s important to note: Host families do not receive stipends from Better Together or from the government for caregiving (they may receive diapers, supplies, and grocery help from faith organizations and private donors). These families are motivated solely from the heart.
- Parents in distress generally were raised by other parents in distress. Recognizing the generational cycles of poverty and abuse, another subset of volunteers—Family Mentors—are ready to lend a hand, an ear, a friendly voice to steer those who feel isolated and overwhelmed. The relationships—strictly voluntary—are more akin to friendships than the formal case management the state provides when children are in foster care. Though casual in nature, these partnerships have targeted aims—to help parents-in-need fill whatever gaps are preventing them from achieving self-sufficiency and stability for their children. Parents may request a Family Mentor whether or not their children are with a Host Family.
- Unlike foster care, where courts determine family reunification, parents drive the decisions throughout their involvement with Better Together. That includes choosing the right time to bring their children home.