Preventing Family Separation: The Role of Basic Needs Assistance

Family separation is a deeply distressing experience for both parents and children, and it often arises from a multitude of complex factors. One significant contributing factor is the inability of families to meet their basic needs. When parents struggle to provide a stable and nurturing environment due to poverty, homelessness, or lack of access to essential resources, the risk of family separation increases. In this blog, we will explore the crucial role of basic needs assistance in preventing family separation. By addressing these needs proactively and comprehensively, we can help families stay together and create a nurturing environment for their children’s well-being.

Providing Stable Housing

Safe and stable housing is a fundamental requirement for family unity. By ensuring that families have access to affordable housing, we can significantly reduce the risk of separation. At Care in Action MN we help cover rental assistance, housing subsidies, or other supportive housing resources that can help families overcome housing challenges and create a stable living environment. When parents have a secure place to call home, children benefit from the stability and continuity, reducing the likelihood of family separation.

Addressing Economic Hardships

Financial struggles can place immense strain on families, making it difficult to provide for their children’s basic needs. Basic needs assistance programs that offer financial support, job training, and access to employment opportunities can alleviate economic hardships and empower parents to provide for their families. By addressing financial instability, we create conditions that reduce the risk of family separation and foster family unity.

Healthcare Access

Healthcare plays a crucial role in family stability and well-being. Basic needs assistance programs that provide healthcare coverage, medical services, and mental health support can help families address health concerns and prevent the need for family separation. By ensuring that children and parents have access to healthcare, we promote family unity and create conditions that support their overall physical and emotional well-being.

Supporting Parenting and Family Preservation

Parenting support programs offered through basic needs assistance play a vital role in preventing family separation. These programs provide parents with education, counseling, and support services to enhance their parenting skills and strengthen family bonds. By addressing parenting challenges and providing the necessary resources, families are better equipped to create a nurturing environment, reducing the risk of child maltreatment and the need for out-of-home placement.


Preventing family separation is a multifaceted challenge that requires a comprehensive approach. By addressing the basic needs of families through housing support, economic assistance, food security, healthcare access, and parenting support, we can significantly reduce the risk of family separation. Basic needs assistance programs play a crucial role in creating an environment where families can thrive, providing the necessary support to maintain family unity and foster the well-being of parents and children alike. When we come together as a community to support vulnerable families, we demonstrate our commitment to family preservation and the belief that every child deserves the chance to grow up in a loving and nurturing home.

Faith in Action: How Churches Can Prevent Child Abuse & Neglect in Their Organization

Child abuse and neglect are deeply concerning issues that affect countless children worldwide. As trusted institutions within their communities, churches have a unique opportunity to play a pivotal role in preventing and addressing these harmful incidents. In this blog, we will explore the ways in which churches can take proactive measures to prevent child abuse and neglect within their organization. By fostering a culture of safety, implementing policies and procedures, and providing education and support, churches can create environments where children are protected, nurtured, and can thrive.

Cultivating a Culture of Safety:
Creating a culture of safety within a church organization is the first crucial step in preventing child abuse and neglect. It begins with promoting awareness among church staff, volunteers, and congregants about the importance of child protection. By openly discussing the issue and emphasizing the church’s commitment to the safety and well-being of children, a strong foundation is established for preventing abuse. This can include incorporating child protection messages in sermons, newsletters, and educational programs.

Implementing Clear Policies and Procedures:
Establishing clear and comprehensive child protection policies and procedures is essential for maintaining a safe environment. Churches should develop guidelines that outline expectations for appropriate behavior, including protocols for interacting with children and reporting suspicions or incidents of abuse. These policies should be regularly reviewed, communicated to all staff and volunteers, and consistently enforced. By having well-defined procedures in place, the church demonstrates its commitment to safeguarding children.

Screening and Training Church Staff and Volunteers:
Thoroughly screening and training church staff and volunteers is a critical step in preventing child abuse and neglect. Background checks, reference checks, and interviews should be conducted for all individuals working directly with children. Additionally, comprehensive training programs should be provided to educate staff and volunteers on recognizing signs of abuse, appropriate boundaries, and how to respond to disclosures. Equipping individuals with knowledge and skills empowers them to actively protect children and take appropriate action when necessary.

Providing Education for Families and Children:
Educating families and children about child abuse prevention is vital. Churches can organize workshops, seminars, or guest speakers to address topics such as recognizing abuse, promoting healthy relationships, and personal safety. By offering age-appropriate educational programs for children, the church empowers them to understand their rights, identify potential risks, and seek help if needed. Supporting parents in building open lines of communication with their children can further strengthen protective factors within families.

Establishing Reporting Channels:
Establishing clear reporting channels for suspected child abuse or neglect is essential. Churches should ensure that all staff, volunteers, and congregants are aware of the designated individuals to whom they should report concerns. It is crucial to create an environment where individuals feel safe and supported when coming forward with suspicions or disclosures. Churches should also familiarize themselves with local child protection laws and collaborate with relevant authorities to address and prevent abuse.

As spiritual and community leaders, churches have a responsibility to protect the well-being of children within their organization. By actively working to prevent child abuse and neglect, churches can create safe and nurturing environments where children can grow, learn, and thrive. Through fostering a culture of safety, implementing policies and procedures, providing training and education, and establishing effective reporting channels, churches can play a vital role in safeguarding the most vulnerable members of their congregation. By putting faith into action, churches demonstrate their commitment to the protection and well-being of children, embodying the values of love, compassion, and justice.

Breaking the Cycle: How Providing Basic Needs Supports Family Preservation

Maintaining family unity and preserving the well-being of children is a shared goal across societies. However, many families face significant challenges in meeting their basic needs, which can put them at risk of family separation and disrupt the healthy development of children. By providing support for essential needs such as housing, food, healthcare, and economic stability, we can break the cycle of instability and create conditions for family preservation. In this blog, we will explore the critical role of providing basic needs assistance in supporting family preservation efforts and fostering a nurturing environment for children to thrive.

Ensuring Stable Housing:
Stable housing is a fundamental need for families to thrive and stay together. By providing housing assistance programs, such as rental subsidies or transitional housing, we can help families secure safe and stable living conditions. Stable housing reduces stress, improves parental mental health, and provides a nurturing environment for children. When families have a place to call home, they can focus on building healthy relationships, accessing community resources, and creating a stable foundation for their children’s growth.

Alleviating Economic Hardships:
Economic instability is a significant factor that can lead to family separation. By providing financial support we can help families overcome economic hardships and strengthen their ability to provide for their children’s needs. Assistance programs that address poverty and promote financial stability empower parents to secure stable employment, access education and training, and ultimately break free from the cycle of generational poverty. Economic support enables families to meet their basic needs and reduces the stressors that can strain relationships and increase the risk of family breakdown.

Facilitating Healthcare Access:
Access to healthcare is crucial for families to thrive and stay together. By providing healthcare coverage, medical services, and mental health support, we can address health disparities and promote family preservation. Comprehensive healthcare services ensure that children receive necessary medical care, vaccinations, and developmental screenings. Additionally, supporting parents’ physical and mental well-being enables them to better care for their children and seek help when needed. Accessible and affordable healthcare promotes family stability and prevents health-related crises that can lead to family separation.

Supporting Parents in their Role:
Financial stability enables parents to meet their children’s basic needs without constant worry or stress. This alleviates the burden of financial strain, allowing parents to focus on fostering positive relationships with their children, engaging in quality bonding time, and being present in their lives. It provides parents with the opportunity to invest in their own well-being and personal growth, which ultimately translates into improved parenting. By relieving financial pressure, economic support creates a space where families can thrive, build resilience, and develop strong bonds, resulting in healthier and happier households.

Breaking the cycle of instability and supporting family preservation requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the basic needs of families. By ensuring stable housing, alleviating economic hardships, facilitating healthcare access, and supporting parents in their role, we create conditions that enable families to thrive and stay together. Supporting basic needs not only enhances family well-being but also strengthens communities as a whole. By providing these vital resources and services, we can break the cycle of instability, promote family preservation, and create a brighter future for children and families alike.

2020 Year in Review

Dear friends,

It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since we started Care in Action Minnesota. A lot has changed in that time and yet much has remained the same. Our developing organizational identity continues to be fueled by the tenacity of our supporters. Without your dedicated support over the past year, our work would not be possible. In the middle of the pandemic, you stepped forward more than ever to touch lives and help people in need.

We are continually inspired by your commitment. Whether you are a donor, a volunteer, or a caring person concerned about the plight of children and families impacted by child maltreatment, we are very grateful for your generosity of time, funds, and spirit.

What Has Changed

We have experienced tremendous growth since Care in Action Minnesota’s early days, in geographic area served and the numbers of foster youth, children & families we have been able to support. You have helped us grow our impact, from what began with a small church in one county to now serving six counties across Minnesota with several local business partners, compassionate individuals, community, volunteer and faith-based groups investing in the lives of the most vulnerable in our community.

What Has Stayed the Same

Our commitment to offering programming impacting children who have experienced abuse or neglect, strengthen families, connect communities, and prevent childhood maltreatment. Our commitment to collaborating with county and community partners. Our role to partner with families to assess child safety and family needs, encourage families to develop their own solutions to their challenges, and identify supportive resources to help care for and protect their children.

The impact thus far has been tremendous. We have kept families together. We have made reunification possible. We have helped complete the final steps for adoption. We have helped families fleeing abuse. We have helped families secure permanent housing after years of experiencing chronic homelessness. We have helped children and families heal. We have raised awareness. We have prevented child abuse.

Unfortunately, families still need our help, and the systems designed to help them still struggle with disparities. We remain committed to addressing these disparities. And above all, we remain committed to our vision of a world with no family violence, where all children, youth, and families can operate at their full potential and have the resources and skills they need to live with hope and dignity.

Announcement: CIAM’s Executive Director Transition

Dear Friends and Supporters or Care in Action Minnesota:

I am writing to share some exciting news about my future and the future of Care in Action Minnesota. After a decade and a half of tireless service to further CIAM’s mission and values, it fills me with sadness and gratitude to announce that at the end of January 2021, I will be stepping down as the Executive Director of CIAM, to start in a new position as the Executive Director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE). GRACE works nationally and internationally to help Christian faith communities better recognize, prevent, and respond to child maltreatment by providing training, policy/procedure review and assessment, and consultation. 

I want to express my deepest gratitude to all who have been so supportive of the organization and of me personally over the years: board members, nonprofit partners, funders, and, of course, our Change Makers and Community Partners. Without you, the organization would not be as strong and vibrant as it is. I am so honored to have been the leader of this incredible organization and will watch with much excitement and anticipation as it continues to fulfill its mission. 

As I considered this change, I reflected on the 15 years since we started CIAM. Several of you have been with us since those early days! We have grown so much from one small church partner in one county to now working in 6 counties in Minnesota with several faith and business partners. I have loved working together with all of you to make a difference for children and families impacted by child maltreatment. We have kept families together. We have made reunification possible. We have helped complete the final steps for adoption. We have helped families fleeing abuse. We have helped families secure permanent housing after being homeless. We have helped children and families heal. We have raised awareness. We have prevented child abuse. Thank you!

In 2021, CIAM is well positioned and will continue to build upon its amazing work. The past few years have seen much growth, and we need a passionate Executive Director to help us move forward. I am excited to announce that Katherine Sims has been chosen by the Board of Directors as only the second Executive Director in CIAM’s history. Katherine brings an intense passion for children and families who have been impacted by abuse, and she has put that passion into action in many ways. She has been with us for the past year as our Community Programs Coordinator, so she knows our mission well. We will give a more formal introduction in the coming weeks so you get to know her more. If you would like a chance to connect with her by phone or video in the coming months, please feel free to email her at to schedule a time. 

Though I will no longer be Executive Director of CIAM, I will still be around. I am joining the Board of Directors, and I will still volunteer and train for CIAM. Being a part of CIAM and being able to partner with you in this work has taught me so many things! It has changed my life. Thank you for walking alongside me in this work and for continuing to support Care in Action Minnesota as we help children and families impacted by maltreatment.

In humble gratefulness,

Pete Singer

Founder, Care in Action Minnesota

Combating COVID-19 Summer Learning Loss

COVID-19 may not be killing children in the same numbers as adults, but the virus that has locked down the world for nearly 5 months now, is having a grave and long-lasting impact on kids. In addition to the existing challenges faced by children and families in the midst of the pandemic, the Summer months ahead pose additional unique challenges. The thought of the effect this 6-month school break will have on masses of children is frightening, especially its impact on kids from low-income families who already tend to lag behind.

Summer has always been a time when gaps get wider. The seminal Coleman Report published in 1966 showed that student outcomes inside the classroom are predicated on their circumstances outside the classroom. More recent studies show that summer is a pivotal period for student learning. Nationally, children enjoy summer breaks of 8–10 weeks, summer learning loss has been estimated at between 10–25 percent of yearly learning, with children from poorer households disproportionately affected. Studies in low-income settings show that gaps in schooling lead to drop outs at critical transitions between educational levels, and can lower the progression of the most disadvantaged children through the school system.

Summer slides are especially pernicious because their effects are cumulative. By the time a student gets to middle school, they’ve lost an average of two years to summer slide. At higher grade levels, the effect grows even stronger. The consequences of a six-month summer vacation are almost impossible to imagine.

Moreover, the effects of summer slide extend far beyond testing outcomes. For example, low-income students who experience the greatest summer learning loss are more likely to drop out of high school. That’s because lapses in school not only produce losses in learning, but, as Alexander and his colleagues wrote, also “losses in health and well-being, college and career opportunity, and support needed to break cycles of inter-generational poverty and move young people and their families forward.”

Learning opportunities and life outcomes are multifaceted and interrelated. Students from households with greater levels of connectivity, higher levels of parental education, greater availability of parental time for engagement, and in-home availability of books and materials have much better ability to access and benefit from distance learning. These advantages are further reinforced by the reliance of these responses on the use of technology, as the absence of connectivity and technology gap has slowed down the shift to distance learning during COVID-19 and continues to be a major challenge. Experts warn that technologically mediated distance learning is likely to increase inequality in learning continuity.

What we’re doing about it

Care in Action Minnesota is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, providing essential support to foster youth, children and families impacted by abuse or neglect in Washington, Ramsey, Dakota, Winona, Fillmore, and Hennepin Counties, since 2005. Through a variety of programs and initiatives, we work to promote the social, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of children, strengthen families, connect communities and prevent childhood maltreatment. We thrive to foster equity, trauma-informed healing, family stability, and self-sufficiency.

CIAM’s resource activation networks have been able to support thousands of children and families, across Minnesota. At CIAM, in addition to assuring access to basic needs, we focus on strengthening learning opportunities and the personal development and enrichment of the children and youth we serve. We look to the summer months ahead as an opportunity to combat coronavirus learning loss, by providing children and youth, among other things: laptops for online learning, covering online courses and summer camp costs, Summer monthly STEM kits that allow for personalized enrichment through increasingly complex activities, and book club subscriptions where books, tailoring to child’s age, reading level and interests, are also delivered monthly to their homes.

The impact that learning materials can have on learning continuity during periods of school closure are well researched. For example, a US-based intervention that mailed 10 books to students over the summer matched to students reading interests, accompanied by email or text messages to parents, promoted more than one month of gains in reading skills. Additionally, when children gain a sense of mastery of their environments, they are more likely to develop feelings of self-worth, confidence and independence.

Ultimately, we hope our efforts respond to immediate needs, support equitable recovery, and strengthen our ongoing efforts to support child well-being, strengthen families, connect communities and prevent childhood maltreatment.

You can join us

While COVID-19 has been tough on everyone, it has been particularly disastrous for families that were already struggling to make ends meet. We need $5,000 to support the development and combat learning loss among our most vulnerable. We operate by a committed group of volunteers and core supporters and all donations are tax deductible and 100% OF YOUR DONATION WILL GO DIRECTLY TOWARDS PROVIDING ENGAGING LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES TO AT-RISK CHILDREN AND YOUTH.