Safe Families Empowers and Mentors the Youth Thanks to OTF Grant

With a generous $74,600 SEED grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), Safe Families Canada also known as Safe Families launched a new Safe Families PLUS program for the branch in Windsor-Essex last fall. The program which launched on October 1st, 2020, aimed to research, and develop a mentorship and support program for youths who have aged out of foster care.

“I am very pleased to see the Ontario Trillium Foundation investing in organizations like Safe Families Canada.  Now more than ever families need support.  Safe Families Canada has been offering their help in Windsor Essex since 2019.  Hopefully this award will help them continue to be there when they are needed in our community,” stated Taras Natyshak, MPP for Essex

“The project paired youth who have recently ‘aged out’ of foster care with adult mentors who acted as long-term, consistent role models, similar to an extended family member,” said Joanne Fear, regional director of Safe Families Windsor-Essex. “The mentor is a volunteer, support person who helps guide the youth along on their journey, working towards achieving their independence goals. Mentors come alongside the youth to provide lasting support and shared experiences; help with exploring talents, and career interests; teach life skills (i.e., grocery shopping, budgeting, etc.); connect with resources in the community and develop strong emotional and social skills.”

Safe Families offers hope and a safe place for children as well as support and mentoring for parents and the Safe Families PLUS program is life-changing in strengthening the positive development of children and youth. Safe Families Windsor-Essex benefitted from the support of the Children’s Aid Society in achieving this project and is thankful to Janine Jones, the Continued Care and Support for Youth Supervisor, and her incredible team for their commitment.

“The introduction of Safe Families PLUS has helped to provide an essential support for youth leaving the foster care system. The milestone out of care to independence in a young person’s life can present as challenging, overwhelming, and isolating. The guidance and mentorship from Safe Families PLUS volunteers has helped to provide a crucial support for youth to achieve their goals to succeed in adulthood. A sincere thank you to Safe Families PLUS for providing this fundamental support to youth in our community,” said Janine Jones, Continued Care & Support Supervisor, Children’s Aid Society

In working with families in crisis, Safe Families has noted that many of the parents it supports have had a childhood history with child welfare.  Some have been raised in the foster care system and exit with little to no supports. The impact has been tremendous in the community. In its project report, Safe Families Windsor-Essex found that from baseline to midpoint, youth who were mentored described an average positive increase in all six evaluated domain areas:

  • Social networks-support
  • Wellbeing-happiness/emotional health
  • Confidence-self-esteem
  • Home environment-physical needs
  • Goals-dreams
  • Education-employment

Moreover, they all reported a positive change in their social networks-support and 71% of them stated a positive change in their confidence-self-esteem and goals-dreams.

Within a few months in the Safe Families Plus program, youth saw the greatest improvement in the domain areas of:

  • Goals-dreams
  • Social networks-support
  • Home environment-physical needs

Families helping families. Safe Families Play Day is coming up September 25th, 2021. Gather your friends and family and walk, ride, bike, roller blade, game as we raise funds. The possibilities are endless to help Safe Families Canada continue to reach out to local families in crisis. For more information, visit the website: OR put together a team for our Amherstburg Amazing Race. Email for information.

Safe Families looks to intervene and step in before the worst happen to children.  It is a community-based safety net alternative to the government child welfare system, striving to strengthen families and keep children out of the foster care system when possible.  Safe Families Canada launched in 2011 in Toronto.  The Windsor-Essex site launched March of 2019.  Safe Families Windsor-Essex’s mandate is to positively impact and strengthen families in crisis.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. Last year, nearly $112M was invested into 1,384 community projects and partnerships to build healthy and vibrant communities and strengthen the impact of Ontario’s non-profit sector. In 2020/21, OTF supported Ontario’s economic recovery by helping non-profit organizations rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.  Visit to learn more.


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