Since 1979, Volunteer Emergency Families for Children (VEFC) has reached out to children who are in crisis situations. Founded by the Virginia Council of Churches, in cooperation with Virginia's Department of Social Services and Juvenile Court System, VEFC extends its services to children who are abused, neglected, have run away and/or are non-violent delinquents. VEFC recruits, trains and maintains a network of volunteers, known as host families, who provide quality short-term shelter and mentoring services to children and youth throughout Virginia.
One of the major components of VEFC is their temporary shelter for runaways, homeless and in-crisis young people. The program involves host families that extend the love and hospitality of their own homes to children and youth, ages birth to 17, who need a safe, nurturing place to stay. Participants in the temporary shelter typically stay with a family anywhere from one to 21 days. Since its inception, more than 8,000 young people have received assistance.
In 1992, VEFC developed partners in Learning and Understanding Students (PLUS). Volunteers in this program serve as mentors for students in four schools. They work with the students to teach them how to manage difficult behavior, strengthen their academic performance and to encourage their personal growth. Volunteers also offer guidance, in order to promote responsible behavior, staying in school, and establishing life goals to prevent recidivism and further juvenile crime.
While 30.6% of their funding is governmental, the program also receives funding from foundations, the United Way, individuals, businesses/corporations, local churches and civic organizations.
VEFC started in Richmond, Virginia, and has expanded to 47 communities within the Commonwealth of Virginia.