In their Words...

"Safe Families has the vision of creating a world where children are safe and families transformed through radically compassionate communities."

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Volunteer Profiles - Meet Liz & Safe Families for Children

In their Words...

"Safe Families has the vision of creating a world where children are safe and families transformed through radically compassionate communities."

Liz DePuydt, the Director of Safe Families for Children of Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay, launched the local chapter in 2019 after seeing an increasing need for supporting families and children in crisis. Living in Santa Cruz for 24 years, Liz says that she has witnessed the unique care and devotion people in our area extend to their neighbors, and believed that not only was Safe Families an essential movement to start, but that it would take off due to the awesome community we live in! Additionally, in her past career Liz worked with children in foster care, and feels strongly about offering preventative and strengthening resources for parents, to help step in before things get so desperate that there is the need for the child welfare system.

Safe Families for Children is a family preservation movement, fueled by an army of volunteers, with the mission of preventing child abuse and neglect, strengthening parents, and keeping families together.

“Safe Families has the vision of creating a world where children are safe and families transformed through radically compassionate communities,” states Liz. “By surrounding parents and children with love and extended family-like relationship, SFFC pulls people out of isolation and helps them get through desperate times.”

SFFC was founded in Chicago in 2003 and the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay chapter launched in 2019. Safe Families is a multi-site non-profit organization that gives hope to families in distress and re frames how parents are supported during a crisis. Parents may opt to place their child in safe, loving homes while other volunteers wrap around them with support to help them get back on their feet and restore stability in their lives.

“We are a community-based movement predicated on the belief that the safety and health of children is the responsibility of all of us. Through creating extended family-like support and building relationship, Safe Families keeps children safe and families intact,” says Liz.

Since beginning the local chapter, SFFC has seen it’s volunteer base grow from 5 founding volunteers to over 55 in the past 2 years. This has allowed them to successfully support many local families facing crisis. However, during this era of the Covid pandemic, Safe Families has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of requests, as stressors are on significant rise. Additionally, as they have developed partnerships with other local agencies, schools, churches, hospitals, etc., they are receiving more and more referrals for help. Safe Families is currently expanding their reach into Monterey, Watsonville, Salinas, Davenport, and San Jose, and they need your help to be able to say yes to each call they get! Liz says they love that they are having a direct impact on some of the families and children who do have open cases with the Department of Children and Family Services. To be able to build relationship with families needing a little extra support, as well as help lift a bit of the huge caseload our county social workers carry, is essential in families being able to get out of tough situations, grow and find hope, and reunite children with their parents.

During the short time SFFC has been in the Monterey Bay, they have witnessed many beautiful stories of success. One of the first families that came to Safe Families over 2 years ago is a single mom of three who was trying to get herself out of a tough domestic violence situation. Through the support of her Family Coach, several Family Friends, and a Host Family, Lisa and her children are no longer homeless, Lisa holds a secure job, is able to feed her family, and was able to get a much needed surgery that she had been putting off due to not having anywhere safe to leave her children while she was in the hospital. The kids are thriving in their new schools and sports activities, and Lisa holds hope and is developing life skills that are preparing them for a successful family life together.

“There have certainly been many hurdles along the journey, but due to the trust built between Lisa and her Safe Families volunteers, she now knows she can call us at any time and there will be someone there to support her,” says Liz. “The relationship built between them does not end, but continues through the years to offer a true sense of family-like support and love.”

A quote from a single dad of two that SFFC is currently working with sums up what many have said about Safe Families for Children. “After we lost the kids’ mom, we didn’t know what to do, we did not know how we would make it… and then we found you (Safe Families).” Another mom who is a part of SFFC and was faced with hardship says that “When I tell people about Safe Families, they can not believe that this program even exists!”.

Liz says that it is not just the families they serve who are touched by the impact of the SF movement. Their volunteers have shared that, “to have the privilege of being able to support these special families with love and sometimes simple, but necessary things, has given us so much in return”. Liz says she hears that often.

Liz says Safe Families for Children has significant needs for various volunteer opportunities. Check out the current needs below and consider joining this amazing organization as a volunteer.   


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