The Support and Aid to Families Electronically (SAFE) program is an innovative free parent/caregiver support program that addresses the multiple stressors experienced by families, and further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. London-area families can access online counselling from King's University College School of Social Work students under clinical supervision through a secure video platform called AdraCare. Parents and caregivers can seek support and learn strategies to help them to manage stress, transitions and changes within their family system.
SAFE has received international recognition, with Dr. Jane Sanders and M.K. Arundel presenting at the Society for Social Work and Research conference in Phoenix, AZ, in January 2023.
SAFE’s Mission, Vision and Values
Mission: To reduce barriers to supportive service and provide immediate services to parents/caregivers seeking support with a variety of experiences. By supporting parents and caregivers, we support the children and families as a whole.
Vision: To fully support families to thrive, meeting challenges with confidence and understanding.
Who is SAFE for?
While the SAFE pilot program began with the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB), services were expanded to include the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB). SAFE services are currently available to parents/caregivers of school-age children and youth attending school within the TVDSB and LDCSB.
Youth, 12-17 years of age, can access SAFE services with a referral from their school social worker.
Who is involved with SAFE?
The SAFE program is managed out of King’s University College School of Social Work Field Education Office. Social Work students, under direct supervision of a registered social worker, provide assessment, education/resources, referrals, and counselling support virtually, via video, phone or email.
Currently, parents/caregivers interested in the SAFE program must connect with their child’s TVDSB or LDCSB school social worker to initiate a referral.
The value of the SAFE program to our community cannot be overstated. As many families will know, there are limited supports offered directly to parents and caregivers, and barriers to accessing those that are. The SAFE program breaks down these barriers by providing free, immediate and unlimited support to families. Parents and caregivers who have accessed the SAFE program report improvements in child behaviours, family life and mental health. But beyond that, they report feeling heard, validated and supported in a way they hadn’t been before. To be a part of SAFE’s service delivery team has been an honour and an exceptional learning experience. Social work students who complete their practicum with the SAFE program can expect to learn a great deal about program development, clinical counselling, virtual service delivery, social work research, the value of supervision and peer support, and so much more. I believe that through this opportunity to work alongside families, we are contributing to a happier, healthier community.
Ariel Seale, '22 Social Work,
and one of the original SAFE practicum students
SAFE is partially supported by alumni and other donors to King’s University College. We would also like to thank the London Community Foundation for supporting the pilot program with a generous grant through their COVID-19 Response Fund.
More struggling families in the London area will have access to free online counselling through the Support and Aid for Families Electronically (SAFE) program, thanks to a $43,000 grant from TD Bank Group (TD). With this generous support from TD, King’s will continue this vital program and expand it to include parents and caregivers of children and youth enrolled in the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB), as well as school-referred youth with more significant needs.