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How Does Family Promise Work?

The Family Promise program brings shelter, meals, and support services to homeless families with minor children. Family Promise Networks are a cost-efficient, effective, and replicable community response to family homelessness. Because they make use of existing community resources, they can be implemented quickly, without high start-up costs. Family Promise programs vary from community to community, reflecting local needs and resources. However, there are five essential components of a Family Promise program.

People In Church

Hosting rotates weekly among the 10 to 12 Host Congregations in a Network. In turn, each Host Congregation provides overnight lodging for seven nights, two or three meals daily, and welcoming care. Guests arrive at 5:30 PM and depart at 7:30 AM, 7-days a week, 365 days a year. The church provides a common area and a private space for each family to use. These private spaces range from Sunday School rooms to cubicles, built-in fellowship spaces, or gyms. Guests are only at the Host Churches in the evening, and overnight, they usually do not interfere with regular church activities. Each Host Church has a Coordinator (or a Coordinating Team) who has the responsibility to line up meals and volunteers to serve the guests during their stay at the church. Shower facilities are sometimes available at the host churches but not always. There are shower facilities at the Day Center.

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  • Guests use a local Day Center seven days a week, 365 days a year, from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The Day Center staff provides case management services. Guests pursue employment and housing, tend pre-school children, shower, and do laundry.

  • The day center provides guests with a mailing address and a base for housing and employment searches. Many guests are employed during the day, while older children attend school.

  • The Day Center staff will screen Guests for any criminal background and can deny participation for crimes involving violence and drug abuse.

Prayer Group
  • A small church, a Sunday School class, or a church service organization can be a Support Church and provide much-needed services by working with a Host Church and providing one or two meals during a week or by giving a man and a woman to stay overnight at a Host Church one night or several nights during the week.

  • Volunteers provide services:

  • Preparing for hosting: Coordinating volunteers, shopping, set up

  • Cooking and serving meals at a Host Church

  • Evening Hosts: Interacting with guests, respect, and compassion;

  • Playing with the children and helping them with homework;

  • Overnight Hosts: Staying the night at Host Churches

Smiling Girl

Local social service agencies partner with Family Promise. They refer families to the Network and also play a significant role in helping guests find housing, jobs, health care, child care, and food.


Family Promise of Greater Kingsport uses a 15-passenger van to transport Guests between the Host Churches and the Day Center each day and to provide transportation to and from employment, medical and social services, school, and daycare. The van also moves the trailer with the bedding and luggage to the next Host Congregation each Sunday.

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