MONTGOMERY, OH (FOX19) - As the community honors James Hutchinson, a Middletown boy police believe was murdered by his mother, leaders of a local non-profit want parents to know there is help available for those who cannot or will not care for their children.
Coalition of Care is a non-profit faith-based ministry that has a location in Montgomery. It is made up of volunteers from local churches who have made it their mission to help struggling families.
Staff members say they know the welfare system is in place to help after a tragedy, so they hope to help before a situation becomes one.
“We ask ourselves a question - how can we invest and strengthen and care for a fragile family before there’s neglect, before there’s abuse, before a child ends up in foster custody, before a family disintegrates?” Executive Director Chris Combs said.
Combs says their “Safe Families for Children” program allows them to assist families with meals, transportation, yard work and even giving children a temporary place to live.
“It can be medical situations. It can be housing situations. It can be overwhelmed with stress for any number of different reasons, that parent can pick up the phone, can call our safe families referral line and say, Ccan you help me? Here’s my situation,’” Combs said.
Combs does not know if their outreach could have helped in James Hutchinson’s case.
“Situations like this take it to a whole new level. You think, what could have been different? What could someone have done? And it’s heavy,” Combs said. “If there had been an opportunity upstream from that, weeks ago, months ago, or years ago, the parents had reached out and said, ‘I’m on the edge. Can you host my children for a couple days or a couple weeks?’ Then that could have been a potential scenario.”
What Combs said he does want caretakers to know is that anyone who is struggling can get help, without shame or judgment, before abandoning or abusing a child.
“If you’re parenting and you’re on the edge, please reach out and pick up the phone and call us, or call somebody, because there are resources out there available,” Combs said.
According to the non-profit’s website, the volunteers who are part of the safe families program are trained, undergo background checks and have a home assessment.
Organizers say it has been a big help both locally and in other communities across the country, with thousands of children safely temporarily placed.
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