By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4) – Some Colorado churches and a nonprofit are under fire for helping kids and their parents.
They were trying to keep the children out of the foster care system by connecting their parents with other parents willing to help.
“When life happens and you don’t have a village you can really stand the chance of losing your kids and that’s heartbreaking,” said Kelly McFadden, head of Colorado Safe Families for Children.
The organization helps parents care for their kids when they’re going through a tough time and have nowhere else to turn.
“(It’s) for those kids who aren’t neglected and abused but their parents are really just in a critical situation or a trying situation where they just need help.”
The organization works with 10 churches in the state to find host families who volunteer to step in and care for the kids until their parents are able.
“Maybe a deployed parent, a single mom who ends up in the hospital, a flood or natural disaster and you find yourself without a roof over your head. To be willing to hand your child to someone you don’t know takes a lot courage and we recognize that,” McFadden said.
“You have to be in a pretty desperate place to do that and so we work so hard and the host families work so hard to love these kids, but almost more importantly, to love the parent.”
They were doing just that when they received a cease and desist letter from the State of Colorado. It said they were acting as a child placement agency and needed a license to do so.
“The heart person in me goes ‘I can’t believe this. We’re just trying to help people,'” said McFadden. “And then I realized there are heart people and there are rules people.”
And there are people like state Rep. Kim Ransom, a Republican from Lone Tree, and state Rep. Jonathan Singer, a Democrat from Longmont.
“Sometimes our red tape gets in way of good practice and good policy,” said Singer. He and Ransom introduced a bill that will allow organizations like Safe Families for Children to operate with state oversight. It establishes a legal agreement that allows parents to — temporarily — give up custody of their kids. It also lays out background checks and training for host families and reporting requirements for Safe Families for Children, which already operates in 32 other states.
“This program really was and is a way to make sure that families stay intact,” said Ransom.
McFadden say there are many families in Colorado just waiting for the bill to pass, “There is someone today who is scrambling and doesn’t know what to do with their kids.” The bill passed its first House committee.