Child psychologist David Anderson couldn’t sleep. He was haunted by stories—stories of child abuse and neglect that he’d heard from children at a Chicago hospital, and stories of parents who couldn’t find anyone to take care of their children when their families were going through crisis situations, including illness, unemployment, drug or alcohol rehabilitation, or incarceration.
Later, when Anderson was working as the director of a child welfare organization in Chicago, mothers came to him and asked him to take care of their kids. He couldn’t help them, except to refer them to government agencies in cases of abuse, and even then, he knew that families had a low chance of being reunited after children entered foster care.
The welfare system designed to intervene wasn’t doing enough, and families were falling through the cracks.
“I remember losing sleep and just thinking, there’s got to be a different way,” said Anderson. “The way the system is set up is that the state can’t intervene unless something bad has happened. … Why in the world don’t we figure out how do we support that parent so that nothing happens?”
Read more in my new Forbes.com post, “Can Churches Do What Government Can’t?”
I wrote this post for Ashoka, a social entrepreneurship organization that took me on as a communication intern last summer. It was fun to return to the Forbes blog with a new story to tell.
This post was originally a 2,500-word article that I wrote for a creative writing class, and there’s much more to the story that I wasn’t able to include in the blog. I intentionally sought out David Anderson — and his organization Safe Families for Children — because I wanted to see what it looked like when a social entrepreneur is motivated by his or her faith.
Anderson runs his program through churches around the country and the world, but the influence of his Christian faith runs deeper than the logistical level. He and I talked a lot about rediscovering biblical hospitality, which he says defines the church’s role in society. Instead of merely giving charitably, Anderson wants Christians to “make room” in their lives and homes for children.
You can find more of my work, including more Forbes.com blog posts like this, on my Work and Recognition page.
I’d also encourage you to read more from Ashoka’s blog, which always posts interesting content about social entrepreneurship.