About Our Chapter
The SFFC Central/Southern Illinois Network is made up of two implementing agencies who recruit churches, train volunteers, connect with community partners, handle intake calls and provide the professional support to our volunteers and churches. Our implementing agencies are:
- Safe Families Alliance, covering the Springfield, Peoria, Quincy, Metro East St. Louis and Mt. Vernon chapters
- Illini Christian Ministries, covering the Champaign, Bloomington, and Decatur chapters
You can contact our implementers here.
Churches throughout our network play a significant role with Safe Families. It is through a partnership with local churches that we are able to recruit, train and mobilize volunteers to care for children and their families. Throughout our network, we have over 40 churches that are either a Partner, Lead or Community Lead church. If your church would like to participate with Safe Families, please let us know!
Our churches range from urban to suburban to rural, and from small to large. Some churches have many host families, family coaches and family friends; while other churches have just a few but also provide much needed support and resources to our volunteers. We are excited to see more and more churches see the need for helping struggling families and how simple acts of compassion and hospitality can truly impact lives, offer hope and provide a tangible expression of the Gospel.
You can get to know our supporting churches here.
The heart and soul of Safe Families for Children are our volunteers and churches. Without the service and leadership they provide in their local contexts, struggling families will continue to be unsupported. Each Community Lead church has a Ministry Lead who helps organize Safe Families in their church and community. We also have teams of volunteers who make up chapter Leadership Teams that work toward church and volunteer recruitment, community partner (referral source) recruitment and fundraising. Below are some of our key team members, who are both staff at our implementing agencies and volunteers in our chapters.
Ryan is the Central/Southern Illinois Director. He specifically implements the Springfield, Peoria, Quincy and Metro East chapters, while providing supervision, consulting and coaching for other regions in the network. Ryan also serves on the Safe Families National Leadership Team as the the Director for Church Engagement and Movement Strategy. Ryan has been in full-time church ministry most of his life working with students, young adults, worship and church planting. Ryan has specialized in faith based non-profit leadership the last number of years, and is passionate regarding helping local churches live out the Gospel in their communities. He and his wife Dawn, along with their five children, live and serve in Springfield, Il.
Dawn Childress has joined the Safe Families staff as a regional Family Coach Supervisor. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Illinois. Dawn has experience working with at risk youth and families in many different professional and volunteer capacities. She has served as the director of a specialized foster care program, a counselor for children and families who are involved with the state foster care system as well as a classroom volunteer and teacher in the local schools. In her free time, Dawn enjoys baking, playing tennis and spending time with her husband and two sons.
Jessica is our Chapter Director for greater Peoria. She helps with church recruitment and does presentations for Safe Families at churches and for community partners. Jessica comes to us as a long time volunteer with Safe Families and is a former social worker with Peoria Rescue Ministries at their women’s pregnancy center where she assists moms with unexpected pregnancies and teaches parenting classes.
Christy is the chapter director for Mt. Vernon and Southern Illinois. She had a degree in Psychology and Public Administration and had spent over 10 years working in the social service field. Christy’s passion is in working and advocating for families in need to not only strengthen those families but also our strengthen communities. She enjoys spending time with her husband, 5 children, her dog and 2 newly adopted kittens.
Ellen is our Family Coach/Intake Supervisor in the Metro East St. Louis chapter.
Jason is our Church Engagement Coordinator in the Metro East St. Louis chapter.
Sharnell is the Safe Families Coordinator for Illini Christian Ministries based out of Champaign that also covers the Decatur and Bloomington chapters. She attended University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and thoroughly enjoys the community. She enjoys running outdoors, trying new recipes, and spending quality time with friends. Her passion in advocating for vulnerable families makes working with Safe Families for Children an excellent fit.