Children belong in families: The story of SFAC

SFAC (Strengthening Families and Children) was just an idea for founder, Mick Pease, in 2002. Now SFAC works in over 40 countries with numerous organisations from the grassroots to governments in order to advocate for family-based care. Here’s why and how they got there…

Describing his life’s work in his book, Children Belong in Families, Mick says, "the child must be at the centre of everything we do. It’s not about whether certain models do or don’t work. We have to be more intelligent, more sensitive than that."

This ethos is undergirded by the belief that since orphans and abandoned children are among the most vulnerable people in the world, God’s family must respond. In 1997, Mick came across Psalm 68:6, which says 'God sets the lonely in families' and he has sought to be a part of the solution ever since.

Mick believes it is important that family-based care is applied in a way that fits the context in which they are working: "When it’s safe and supported, family life works in all its glorious diversity, whether it’s a child-headed household in Uganda, kinship care in Myanmar, foster care in Brazil or reunification in Sri Lanka."

SFAC has celebrated story after story of children finding safety, love and belonging in a family. With each of their organisation partners, the team helps them transition to family-based care in the way that best suits them.

Joseph Luganda works in rural Uganda and is a staff member at CALM AFRICA. When SFAC met him in 2011, he was convinced that foster care was an impossible dream for his country. Through SFAC’s ongoing training and support, the impossible has slowly become a reality. Joseph is now working with 13 community foster carers looking after vulnerable children.

David is President of Heaven’s Family USA. In 2010, Heaven’s Family was funding extensions for 30 orphanages in Myanmar. When David heard Mick speak, he quickly caught the concept that the best place for children to thrive is in safe families. For the past nine years, they have been transitioning these homes in collaboration with Kinnected Myanmar. Over 100 children have now been reunified safely with their own families and a foster care programme has been established. Donations from Heaven’s Family now pay the wages of social workers who assess families and maintain ongoing contact with the children and their carers to ensure long term safety and success.

Anja is a Paraguayan lawyer. In 2012, SFAC started working with her to educate the Church and Paraguayan government regarding child protection and family law. After a seven-year journey, in July 2019, the Government changed its regulations in order to promote and support adoption, foster and kinship care throughout Paraguay. Family based care is now firmly on their agenda and the impact of these changes will transform children’s lives for generations to come.

Mick says, "it’s not about ‘my’ organisation, ‘my’ church, ‘my’ career. Children are more significant than any of those things." Working with vulnerable children, their families and organisations is not a short-term commitment and there’s no single solution, but there is a growing desire for change. SFAC continues to work within families, communities and governments so that children can thrive in safe families.

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