David Anderson

Ashoka Fellow
Chicago, United States
Fellow Since 2008
My work: providing families in crisis with a temporary alternative to the child welfare system.


This profile was prepared when David Anderson was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
David created Safe Families for Children to provide a safety net for parents in crisis. A voluntary, non-coercive alternative to the child welfare system, Safe Families temporarily places children with loving families, freeing their parents to address issues such as unemployment, drug or alcohol rehabilitation, family violence, illness, or incarceration.

To prevent abuse or neglect that often results when a parent struggles without support, Safe Families enables parents to address issues proactively, without fear of losing custody of their children. Unlike crisis programs or shelters, stays are not limited to an arbitrary period of 24 hours to two weeks; host families care for children for as long as it takes a parent to get back on his or her feet.

Safe Families brings children into wholesome families and their communities on a short-term basis, while helping their birth families gain solid footing so they can provide a strong family environment for their children over the long-term. Host families serve as mentors and role models, and benefit from the profound experience of helping others, which inspires them to volunteer and contribute in other areas of their community. These family-to-family connections form a true community safety net. While the government may give out money or services, Safe Families puts a child or a family into a community that operates positively and productively.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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