An Appreciative Inquiry Reflections from Family Resource Centers in by ojd96442


									 An Appreciative Inquiry:
         Reflections from
Family Resource Centers
       in California 2008
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments .......................................................................................................................................2

Introduction ....................................................................................................................................................4

Networking and Collaboration.............................................................................................................6

Family Strengthening Leading to Community Strengthening.............................................. 11

Family Perspective Allows Us to See Old Issues Through New Lenses ....................... 15

Changes in Systems Thinking............................................................................................................... 18

Relationships as the Essence of the Work ................................................................................... 21

Evaluation and Marketing...................................................................................................................... 24

Funding Stability ......................................................................................................................................... 27

Staffing Family Resource Centers ..................................................................................................... 29

Emerging Family Resource Centers................................................................................................. 31


      A. Map of Appreciative Inquiry Sites........................................................................................ 35

      B. Appreciative Inquiry Interview Sites .................................................................................. 36

      C. Principles of Family Support Practice................................................................................ 37

References .................................................................................................................................................... 38

    Strategies wishes to acknowledge the ongoing investment in primary preven-
    tion made by the California Department of Social Services, Office of Child
    Abuse Prevention. The vision and leadership of the Department staff over the
    years has been vital to the family strengthening work described in this paper
    and to the development of Strategies as a statewide training and technical
    assistance organization.

    Our admiration and support goes to the numerous dedicated staff working
    daily with families and children in family strengthening organizations across
    the state, who are represented by the following individuals who participated
    in this paper: Ted Klemm, Jean Lawrence, Nancy Marshall, Tali Palmrose,
    Sarah Elliot, Annabelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Cantanesi, Kim Wildey, Diana
    Piercy, Elizabeth Spencer, Ereida Galda, Daniel Delgadillo, Cathy Seelig,
    Cynthia Drury, Heather Nemour, Jose Mireles.

    Finally our thanks to the many advisors and readers for this paper including:
    Nina Goldman, Judi Sherman and members of the Strategies statewide staff
    in Region 1, Youth for Change, Paradise, Region 2, Interface Children Family
    Services, Camarillo and Region 3, Children’s Bureau of Southern California,

    The opinions, questions and recommendations included in this paper are not
    necessarily shared by the California Department of Social Services, Office of
    Child Abuse Prevention.

    Annette Marcus, L.C.S.W, Strategies Region 2, Director
    Susan Elizabeth, M.A. Central Valley Project Manager, Strategies
                                      An Appreciative Inquiry:
                                              Reflections from
                                     Family Resource Centers
                                            in California 2008

A world in which children are cherished,
               families are engaged in their communities and communities thrive
                                                     — STRATEGIES VISION STATEMENT
The California Department of Social Services, Office of Child
Abuse Prevention established Strategies in 1997 in response
to the need for training and technical support for the family
resource centers (FRCs) emerging across the state. Strategies
is a statewide alliance of three training and technical assistance
teams that serve the Northern, Central and Southern Regions
of California. Each team is housed within one of three nonprofit
organizations: Youth for Change in Butte County, Interface
Children Family Services in Ventura County and Children’s
Bureau in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Staff from the three
regional offices work closely together to provide a seamless array
of services statewide and are informed by the lessons learned
participating in the daily life of organizations that provide family
strengthening services.

Strategies has undertaken this Appreciative Inquiry as a celebra-
tion of 10 years spent working with Family Resource Centers
(FRCs) in California, and as a way of paying tribute to the
extraordinary family strengthening work that is taking place
across the State. As we listened to executive directors and pro-
gram staff statewide who engage on a daily basis with children
and families, we encouraged them to talk about their experiences
and concerns, their issues and their aspirations for FRCs. Their
thoughts and ideas, questions and recommendations are synthe-
sized in this paper. Together they provide a view of how far the
family strengthening field has come, and afford us a provocative
and challenging window into what we might achieve together in
the next ten years.
In the late nineties state agencies             The lead question
began to make an investment in family           was, “What do you
strengthening, most prominently the             think makes your FRC
Healthy Start Initiative, to further goals      successful?”.
in the education field. In 1998 the
California Department of Health and
Human Services specifically invested in
building a system of Family Resources
Centers (FRCs) throughout the state.
In the past ten years scores of FRCs
have emerged, and there is a small but
growing body of literature document-
                                             to advocate for programs, policies and      Inquiry was chosen as a method for
ing the work and outcomes of these
                                             resources that help families and com-       gathering information because it takes
resource centers as the new, comple-
                                             munities thrive and succeed. Strategies     a viewpoint that elevates community
mentary alternative within the human
                                             endorses the description of family          strengths and is focused on opportuni-
service delivery system. The philosophy,
                                             strengthening work articulated by           ties for change. Neil M. Boyd and David
role, functioning and implementation
                                             CFRA (CFRA, 2008):                          S. Bright, in their article, “Appreciative
of FRCs was articulated in the seminal
                                                                                         Inquiry” in the Journal of Community
document, Family Resource Centers: Vehi-        Communities thrive when job
                                                                                         Psychology, Vol. 35, No 8 (2007), offer
cles for Change, published in 2000 by           opportunities are widely available,
                                                                                         this description:
the State of California, Department of          when health and mental health
Social Services, Office of Child Abuse           care are accessible to families,            Every inquiry is an intervention,
Prevention. In 2001, Strategies pub-            and when children come to school            which means that the image
lished a paper entitled “Promoting and          ready to learn. When communities            embedded within the very
Supporting Quality Family Resource              thrive, families are more likely            questions we ask have enormous
Centers” for the California State Office         to succeed. And when families               potential for unlocking possible,
of Child Abuse Prevention which                 succeed, children tend to be safer,         actionable answers.
described early lessons learned and             healthier and more secure.
                                                                                         Certainly the conversations we had in
made a series of recommendations. In
                                               the field are suggestive of the truth in
contrast, this paper describes the depth
                                                                                         this statement. At a statewide meet-
and breadth of the family strengthening      This brief overview of the literature
                                                                                         ing in 2007, Strategies staff identified
work developed across the state from         familiar to most FRC staff includes
                                                                                         70 sites where best practice work in
the perspective of the staff in FRCs         Strategies quarterly newsletter entitled,
                                                                                         multiple domains was occurring. The
who engage and work with families and        Working Strategies. Distributed across
                                                                                         sites where interviews were conducted
communities at the local level.              the state to staff engaged in family
                                                                                         were selected from this impressive list
                                             strengthening and support work, the
In the past three years the California                                                   to provide geographic, programmatic
                                             publication features special topics and
Family Resource Association (CFRA)                                                       and experiential representation. In early
                                             information relevant to the field and
has published papers and articles                                                        2008 we conducted face-to-face, open-
                                             highlights best practices.
dealing with policy development and                                                      ended interviews with FRC staff. The
change intended to move the fam-             This paper contributes a current            lead question for staff was, “What do
ily strengthening field forward. CFRA,        California perspective to the body of       you think makes your FRC successful?”
founded in 2005, is a statewide mem-         literature on family strengthening by       The themes and topics that emerged
bership association of organizations         adding the voices of the people who         from these in-depth interviews have
and individuals that serve children and      have been doing the work in the field        been organized in this paper in the fol-
families. The Association’s purpose is       over the past decade. Appreciative          lowing order:
    1. Networking and Collaboration               common goal of assuring the well-
6   2. Family Strengthening Leading to            being of all children.
       Community Strengthening
    3. Family Perspective Allows us to See        Family Support Is….
       Old Issues Through New Lenses
    4. Changes in Systems Thinking                  strengthening and empowering fami-
    5. Relationships as the Essence                 lies and communities so that they
      of the Work                                   can foster the optimal development
    6. Evaluation and Marketing                     of children, youth, and adult family
    7. Funding Stability                            members.
    8. Staffing FRCs
    9. Emerging FRCs
                                                    based program designed to prevent
    The depth and quality of the work               family problems by strengthening
    being carried out in California’s FRCs          parent-child relationships and provid-
    is exciting and thought-provoking for           ing whatever parents need in order
    family strengthening practitioners,             to be good nurturers and providers.
    trainers, funders, academics, and those
    whose decision-making authority                 that encourages public and private
    affects the lives of children and families.     agencies to work together and to
    These centers are beginning to make a                                                     of these terms but the underlying shift
                                                    become more preventive, responsive,
    substantial contribution to our under-                                                    in emphasis is significant for FRCs. The
                                                    flexible, family-focused, strengths
    standing of and capacity to engage in                                                     term strengthening implies building
                                                    based and holistic—thus more
    successful family strengthening, as we          effective.                                on a family’s existing strengths, even in
    strive to make families and communi-                                                      times of crisis and deficit. Ultimately,
    ties safe places where children can                                                       the goal of family strengthening pro-
                                                    urges all of us – policymakers, pro-      cesses is that a family is better able to
    grow and thrive.
                                                    gram providers, parents, employers        cope and improve the quality of their
    For a map showing FRCs that par-                – to take responsibility for improving
                                                                                              individual and collective lives without
    ticipated in the Strategies 2008                the lives of children and families. The
                                                                                              professional support. Throughout this
    Appreciative Inquiry see Appendix               family support movement strives to
                                                                                              paper the term “family strengthen-
    Item A. Appendix Item B contains the            transform our society into caring
                                                                                              ing” will be used to reflect this shift in
    contact information for the FRCs that           communities of citizens that put
    participated in this paper.                     children and families first and that
                                                    ensure that all children and families     After a brief narrative on each of the
    A tribute to Family Support America.            get what they need to succeed. These      themes that emerged from our con-
    In the 25 years of its existence (1981-         programs have been proliferating          versations in the field, specific individual
    2006), Family Support America played            across the country since the 1970s.       reflections are included. In some cases
    a leading role in a quiet revolution          Note: Since these definitions were           a synopsis of the interviewee’s con-
    that continues to transform the way           formulated by Family Support America        tribution is given. The reflections are
    America works with families. The              during its years of operation, there has    followed by questions and recommen-
    organization fostered an understand-          been a detectable shift in the nomen-       dations posed by those interviewed
    ing of the importance of building             clature from “family support” to “family    and the authors of this paper because
    trusting relationships and working in         strengthening.” It is beyond the scope      they have the “potential for unlocking
    partnership with families to reach our        of this paper to trace the etymology        possible, actionable answers”.

Family support is a set of
beliefs and an approach to
strengthening and empowering
families and communities so
that they can foster the optimal
development of children, youth
and adult family members.
1. Networking and
Networking is building the family strengthening field.

Networking is having a unifying effect on the family strengthening field
by increasing the capacity of individual agencies and clusters of agencies.
Networking at local and regional meetings provides countless opportu-
nities for the informal exchange of information and relationship building.
Frequently these cross disciplinary contacts result in exchanges of
resources, training, meeting space etc. and can be the prelude to more
formal partnerships.

For the past twenty years, both funding sources and funding crises have
variously required and inspired agencies to work together – formally
and informally. Agencies have reached out to one another to enhance
the quality of services through resource sharing, partnerships and fund-
ing applications. Family Preservation, Family Support, Healthy Start and
more recently First 5 provide examples of funding sources that made
participation in, or the formation of, a network or collaborative of service
providers serving children and families a funding application requirement.
Today, FRCs that are not part of supportive networks may be vulner-
able in two ways: their lack of visibility may cause them to be overlooked
by philanthropies, and they may miss opportunities to become partners
with agencies receiving public funding, thus missing chances to become
embedded in the social service system.

The outcome of the funding mandates from public and private funders,
as well as economic slowdowns or recessions that periodically affect
the national and California economies, can be surprisingly positive. In
times of fiscal constraint, people tend to find ways to work together to
stretch resources.
Networks and collaboratives in coun-        collaborative that has organized to help
ties across the State are creating
                                            its member organizations to sustain
opportunities for service providers         through multiple shifts in funding and
to meet informally, exchange informa-       policy priorities.
tion and develop relationships. The
trend suggests that these networking        Of note is the fact that networks and
relationships often lead to formalized      collaboratives that have retained a
arrangements involving joint funding        facilitator tended to remain functional
applications, memoranda of under-           and be more productive. The caveat to        cited below provides an example of
standing (MOUs) governing service           this note is that clear lines of reporting   the benefits of a paid facilitator.
delivery, development of professional       to the collaborative need to be estab-       Finally, the pursuit of joint funding
standards, co-location, and cross           lished so that the agency employing          sometimes causes collaboratives to
training agreements, etc. Although          the facilitator does not appear to be        begin to disintegrate, since not all
participation in networks and collabor-
                                            running the collaborative or network. It     partners are necessarily involved in the
atives can be time consuming in terms
                                            was also pointed out that the relation-      funding and the funding can become
of meetings, record keeping and more
                                            ships necessary to the formation of          the focal point for the collaborative.
complex decision making processes,
                                            networks and collaboratives exist and        Other times, the collaborative becomes
it is a necessary part of the connec-
tive and relational aspect of the work      progress along a continuum, moving           the focal point for bringing resources
done by FRCs and can be critical to         from networking to coordination, coor-       to an area (particularly in rural areas)
their long term sustainability. The Kern    dination to collaboration and coalition      where numbers/statistics/etc. may not
County Network for Children is just         to High Performance Partnership. The         be high enough in individual centers or
one example of a family strengthening       Chula Vista Community Collaborative          communities to interest funders.

                                           Reflections from the field
Chula Vista Community                       one of the largest and most influential       CVCC currently includes representa-
Collaborative (CVCC)                        collaboratives in the south county. The      tion from two school districts, six FRCs
                                            CVCC Coordinator acknowledges the            and covers 20 schools. The expanded
“There is no lack of resources here
                                            California Department of Education’s         network also includes National City
(south San Diego County). We
                                            foresight in requiring FRCs to form, or      and South San Diego Family Resource
just have to increase awareness
                                            indicate their participation in a collab-    Centers. The Collaborative counts
of the resources and promote
                                            orative as part of their application for     125 service provider partners. The
connections between providers.
                                            funding as a major factor for the devel-     attendance at monthly collaborative
Our goal is to identify families’
needs and make appropriate                  opment and success of FRC/Healthy            meetings is approximately 70 agencies.
service responses happen.”                  Start networks and collaboratives            The CVCC coordinator, a ten year
                                            (1991 Senate Bill 620, Healthy Start         veteran of the CVCC, stressed that
   Heather Nemour, Coordinator, CVCC
                                            Support Services for Children Act).          this large collaborative is extremely
CCVCC started as a Healthy Start            Malloy, J. and Harlick, D. (March 1999)      complex in terms of relationships,
program at Beacon School in 1993. It        “Healthy Start Works: A Statewide            agreements, interconnected programs,
has grown incrementally over the years,     Profile of Healthy Start Sites,” Sacra-       jurisdictions and regulations. However,
largely by trial and error, to reach its    mento, CA: California Department of          it can claim success in helping to raise
current scope and level of success as       Education, p. 29).                           student attendance and test scores,
10                                              Reflections from the field (continued)

     providing strengthening for diverse par-     Birth & Beyond Program,                   offered to let them run a clinic
     ent groups, and acting as a catalyst for     Sacramento County                         here at River Oak. Now UC Davis is
     community change through community                                                     delivering prenatal care at all nine
                                                  “UC Davis Medical Center is just
     forums and the formation of Neighbor-                                                  of our Birth and Beyond Sites”.
                                                  across the road and one of our
     hood Action Groups.                                                                       Tali Palmrose, Clinical Program
                                                  major collaborative partners.
                                                                                               Manager, River Oak Center for
     Most recently CVCC has been instru-          They could not get pregnant
     mental in establishing a county wide         women and teens to go to the
     Family Resource Network in San Diego.        Center for prenatal care so we


     Who are the non traditional partners
     that might be invited into existing
     partnerships or with whom new
     partnerships might be considered, e.g.
     Chambers of Commerce, City and
     County Planning Departments, Parks
     and Recreation Departments, health
     organizations, law enforcement, District
     Attorney, local industry and/or major
     employers, political representatives or
     their staff etc.?

     Are too few people going to too many
     collaborative and network meetings?


     Community strengthening work will be         To do this work well, collaboratives      Powering the Future: High Performance
     best served by expanding the landscape       should look to investing the time to      Partnerships, National Academy of Pub-
     of opportunity to include every entity,      explore and develop the six elements      lic Administration, April 2003).
     organization and constituency that has       of High Performance Partnerships in       Evidence suggests that a budgeted
     a stake in making communities places         ways that work in their own com-          facilitator or coordinator for the
     where children can grow and thrive.          munities: Trust, Shared Values and        collaborative or network contributes
     Be intentional about the vision, mission     Organizational Culture, Joint Resource    to the productivity and longevity of
     and goals for every collaborative. Some-     Development, Integrated Learning          such organizations.
     times in the interest of streamlining        and Systems Structure and Account-
     collaborative work, FRCs may need to         ability (Strategies developed these six
     explore the option of associating with       elements for a High Performance Part-
     and influencing existing county and local     nership model for Family Strengthening
     structures before creating a new entity.     Partnerships. This work was inspired by
2. Family Strengthening Leading
to Community Strengthening
Family strengthening is beginning to result in community strengthening as FRCs
become the portals for seeing and hearing where communities want and need to make
environmental and social changes.
Increasingly integrated processes of mutual information sharing and mutual learning are devel-
oping in FRCs resulting in family and community strengthening. For example, such processes
might be initiated in an FRC by the staff trainings offered by Strategies. Designed in response
to the needs expressed by the family strengthening field, Strategies trainings aim to build and
increase the capacity of FRC professional and paraprofessional staff. Well trained FRC staff in
turn transfer information and skills to families. In a number of cases, strengthened family mem-
bers often assume leadership roles relative to local issues, and subsequently utilize what they
have learned to strengthen their community. The following diagram illustrates this develop-
mental process.
                                                                                              Family Organized for
           New model moves                                                                     Community Change

           focus from the individual
           to the community                                                Family in Community

                                                        Family with Families

                                         Family with FRC

                   Family with Worker

     This learning cycle was initially focused   In many cases FRCs are also demon-         policy change at the local and regional
     on families with the intent of equip-       strating the capacity to respond to        levels.
     ping and empowering them to move            community needs by identifying and
                                                                                            Foundations and other nongovernmen-
     forward on their own to improve the         facilitating the coordination of com-
                                                                                            tal funding sources indicate the desire
     quality of their lives and reduce the       munity assets. This expanded role for
                                                                                            to invest in programs that have the
     likelihood that their children would        staff is still being carefully defined at
                                                                                            potential to engender and support sys-
     suffer from abuse. There is evidence,       the local level in order to support
                                                                                            temic changes that result in improved
     however, that FRCs are acting as incu-      and encourage resident leaders and         outcomes for families and children in
     bators for talent and leadership in local   constituencies and avoid the creation      need. The California Endowment, the
     communities.                                of community dependency. Through the       S.H. Cowell Foundation and First 5
     Clients utilize the confidence, skills       networks to which they belong, FRCs        have all invested in FRCs in recognition
     and knowledge they have gained              are often able to persuade service         of their potential as agents of sys-
     through contact with their local FRC        providers and decision makers to focus     temic change. Recently, the California
     to attend school or job training and        on ways to meet specific needs in a         Endowment announced a new funding
     secure better paying jobs in the area.      community. The renovations to Killifer     approach which will focus on place
     They are also, in growing numbers,          Park in Orange described below pro-        based community building and commu-
     engaging in neighborhood efforts to         vide a good example. FRCs are helping      nity change. Broadening the FRC focus
     resolve local issues, thereby positively    local resident groups to articulate the    on families to include the additional
     impacting not only the lives of their       need for change, encouraging them to       role of strengthening communities may
     own families and children, but also the     organize and facilitating the process of   be a challenge the field cannot afford
     community at large.                         advocacy for environmental, social and     to ignore.
                                             Reflections from the field

Woodlake FRC (formerly a                      enrolled in its nutrition, WIC vouchers   the six years since Birth and Beyond
                                              and a well baby check-up program”.        began.”
Healthy Start site)Tulare County
“Initially the moms won’t                        Diana Pearcy, former Executive         Child Abuse and Neglect Community
question or talk with authority                  Director, Woodlake Family Resource     Indicator Data Report, LPC Consulting
                                                 Center                                 Associates, Inc. September 2007
“Until early 2000, mothers in Wood-           Nancy Marshall, Program Planner for
                                                                                        Friendly Center Orange,
lake had to travel approximately 18           Birth & Beyond, County of Sacramento,     Orange County
miles to Visalia to access a county clinic    pointed out in a recent program
                                              report: “… twelve years of data
                                                                                        “Our community wants to advo-
where Women Infants and Children’s                                                      cate for their kids and families.
                                              highlights improvements in the neigh-
(WIC) services were available. This                                                     They are not into larger politi-
                                              borhoods served by Birth & Beyond
was a real hardship for women who                                                       cal issues: they are just surviv-
                                              program sites particularly in terms
couldn’t drive or didn’t have access                                                    ing. The playground illustrates
                                              of infant and early childhood deaths
to a car during the day. The FRC staff                                                  what I mean.”
                                              (River Oak is one of the nine Birth &
realized the problem through the heavy        Beyond FRC sites where an interview          Cathy Seelig, Executive Director
demands on the FRC food pantry.               for this paper was conducted). The        Three and half years ago an organized
Assisted by FRC staff, community activ-       number of infant and early childhood      group of Friendly Center partici-
ism and advocacy resulted ultimately in       deaths in the six years before Birth &    pants and residents went to the City
the opening of a WIC Clinic in Wood-          Beyond began as higher in most service    of Orange Park Commission and
lake; it currently has 1400 families          areas than the number of deaths in        requested renovations to the dilapi-
                                                                                        dated children’s playground outside
                                                                                        the FRC, in Killefer Park. Following
                                                                                        their presentation the park lighting
                                                                                        was repaired, the playground sand
      There is evidence, however, that FRC’s                                            was cleaned and play equipment was
      are acting as incubators for talent and                                           put on the ten year renovation plan.
                                                                                        KaBoom, a non-profit organization that
      leadership in local communities.                                                  specialized in children’s playgrounds,
                                                                                        heard about the park and formed a
                                                                                        collaboration with the community
                                                                                        including the City of Orange, Orange
                                                                                        Unified School District, the Friendly
                                                                                        Center and AMC Mortgage. Two
                                                                                        months later, two hundred volunteers
                                                                                        from the Friendly Center, City of
                                                                                        Orange, AMC Mortgage and the com-
                                                                                        munity spent five hours on a Saturday
                                                                                        working with staff from Kaboom
                                                                                        installing the customized play equip-
                                                                                        ment that members of the community
                                                                                        had helped to design. The resulting
                                                                                        playground is the pride of the com-
                                                                                        munity. It is not plagued by vandalism
                                                                                        or graffiti and is a testimony to the fact
14                                                 Reflections from the field (continued)

     that strong families can build strong           change the prevailing deficit lens                Elizabeth Spencer, Center
     communities where children can grow             through which disability is viewed.              Coordinator
     and play safely.                                                                              The Westside Regional Center in
                                                     Current service eligibility criteria for
                                                     children living with disabilities are based   Culver City operates Westside Family
     Westside Family Resource and
                                                     on what functions the child cannot            Resource and Empowerment Center,
     Empowerment Center, Culver
                                                     perform. If a parent exaggerates their        and has this guiding principle:
     City, Los Angeles County
                                                     child’s dependence they are more likely       Building Power: Individuals with devel-
     “Support me to be strong.                       to secure services, in spite of the fact      opmental disabilities and their families
     Don’t support me to be weak”.                   that they struggle every day to equip         will be empowered to take control of,
     Westside Family Resource and Empow-             their child to be independent. Who            and responsibility for their lives; to make
     erment Center is strengthening and              better to advocate for a strength-based       informed choices about where and
     empowering parents to “push the                 view of disability, and changes to policy     how they live, where they go to school,
     envelop” in their efforts to shift the          governing services for the disabled,          and where they work; to become active
     prevailing view of childhood disabil-           than a community of strong parents            and influential in their communities, and
     ity as “a glass three quarters empty.”          raising children who are learning how         to become agents of change concerning
     Through advocacy, their vision is to            to live with disability?                      their rights and wishes.

                    Questions:                                 Recommendations:                    labor-intensive nature of family strength-
                                                                                                   ening work, would be persuasive.
     How do we see families when they                Further consideration by academics
     come through the doors of a resource            and practitioners of the relationship         The authentic connections formed
     center seeking information and                  we have with families as one of mutual        between FRC staff and families is a
     services? Do we have a process for
                                                     reciprocity is warranted. FRC staff often     fundamental tenet of family strength-
     addressing the needs and strengths of
                                                     understand that they can learn as much        ening work. Evidence-based practice
     individuals, families and the communi-
                                                     (or more) from the families they work         describes the transformative value
     ties in which we work?
                                                     with as the families learn from the           of the dyadic and family relationships
     Should we be looking at community               service providers. The organic two way        between staff and community mem-
     strengthening on two levels:                    processes inherent in strength-based          bers seeking services and participating
     a) Standard practice that provides the          work with families is worthy of inclu-        in programs. By extension, community
        connectivity for pragmatic, issue and        sion in the evidence-based literature         strengthening suggests the need for
        goal oriented community driven               emerging from the field.                       a relationship between the local FRC
        efforts to effect local change, and
                                                     Encouraging research and data collec-         and the community as a whole. FRCs
     b) Development of capacity to link              tion by sociology, social worker and          are in a unique position to facilitate
        local issues to county, regional and                                                       and support the work of residents
                                                     psychology graduate students through
        state policy and initiatives, leveraging
                                                     a closer relationship with local universi-    advocating for positive changes in their
        off the strengths of the connections
                                                     ties could be of mutual benefit. Using         neighborhood. Role clarification and
        at the local level?
                                                     quality data to underpin the case to be       staff training will be important to the
                                                     made about the value of time, and the         success of this developmental trend.
                                                    This is a wolf made of fire. When he gets mad he howls
                                                    at the moon because it is always night. If someone tries
                                                    to hurt him he will usually bite them. He has a blue
                                                    nose and eyes because that is the color of the sky.
                                                    Boy, age 10

3. Family Perspective Allows
Us to See Old Issues Through
New Lenses
Viewing people and issues in the context of family is allowing for reframing old issues
in new and helpful ways.

The current family strengths approach taken by FRCs intentionally provides a platform that
serves as a positive place to begin interventions. The gradual shift in focus over the past
decade from morbidity and deficits to resilience, strengths and protective factors raises hope
and expectations of positive outcomes for family members and the human service profession-
als with whom they interact. The seminal work by Judy Langford at the Center for the Study
of Social Policy in Washington D.C. on protective factors formalizes this shift as it is dissemi-
nated to family strengthening organizations across the nation.
                     Research has identified five protective factors
                         that reduce child abuse and neglect:
                                                                                                   It should be pointed out however,
16    For adults:                                  For children:                                   that such invitations also pose a set of
      1. Parental resilience                       5. Healthy social and emotional
                                                                                                   challenges for both funders and staff
      2. Social connections                           development
                                                                                                   working in the family strengthening field.
      3. Knowledge of parenting and child
                                                                                                   For example, many FRC line staff have
         development                               (Strengthening Families, Center for
                                                                                                   received training that has been focused
      4. Concrete support in times of need         the Study of Social Policy, 2007)
                                                                                                   almost exclusively on working with
                                                                                                   individuals and families. Understanding
                                                                                                   the connection between family strength-
     Successes based on the development of         New terms such as “family economic
                                                                                                   ening and community strengthening
     family strengths, however small initially,    success” are being coined. They also
                                                                                                   may be a stretch for FRC staff and they
     can be leveraged to produce further           express the new perspective that family
                                                                                                   may benefit from additional support. So
     success. Single focus/issue providers who     strengthening brings to the field. “Family
                                                                                                   along with training about resource and
     are part of FRC networks and collab-          economic success” assumes potential,
                                                                                                   referral, home visiting and case manage-
     oratives are becoming more willing to         and engenders hope; it does not carry
                                                                                                   ment approaches etc. it may be time to
     partner with alternative, multidisciplinary   the stigma or stasis evoked by the term
                                                                                                   begin training staff in community advo-
     approaches that facilitate this demon-        “poverty”, a term that may convey a
                                                                                                   cacy approaches such as those taught
     strable potential for family change.          message of shame to families already
                                                   struggling.                                     by COPA or the National Community
     The majority of FRCs are located in                                                           Development Institute.
     sites that have not traditionally been        In some FRCs, the term “family success
                                                   teams” rather than “multidisciplinary           Additionally, the term ‘community
     associated with the provision of social
                                                   teams” or “case management teams”               strengthening’ rather than ‘community
     services. Schools, neighborhoods and                                                          development’ or ‘social change’ may
                                                   is used, implying a fundamental shift in
     main street storefront venues are vis-                                                        have more currency in conservative
                                                   relationships. Having multi-lingual staff, or
     ible and easily accessible to parents                                                         areas of the state, particularly smaller
                                                   in one creative FRC a different speaker
     and caretakers. In almost every FRC a                                                         communities. The latter terms can be
                                                   for each of the primary languages on
     continuous effort is being made to cre-                                                       perceived as a threat or an affront in
                                                   different days of the week, e.g., Monday –
     ate environments that are culturally and                                                      small rural and mountain communities
                                                   Spanish, Tuesday – Hindi, is another way
     linguistically responsive to local resident                                                   where local traditions and approaches
                                                   of welcoming families who do not speak
     profiles. The emphasis is on encourag-                                                         are proudly protected. The terms ‘family
                                                   English as their primary language. It also
     ing all family members regardless of age                                                      strengthening’ and ‘community strength-
                                                   allows families to schedule appointments
     or gender to feel safe and comfortable.       on days when they know someone will             ening’ are relatively neutral, more easily
     As a result of space allocation, furniture,   be there who speaks their language.             understood and perhaps more readily
     décor, educational toys and books, FRCs                                                       supported.
     indeed “feel like home” and often “serve      As a result of looking at family services
                                                   through a different lens, some FRCs             Differential Response by child welfare
     as community gathering places” (Vehicles
                                                   are beginning to include “community             departments in California is a new com-
     for Change, 2000).
                                                   strengthening” as a natural corollary to        prehensive approach to meeting families’
     It seems that the example of the              family strengthening. These FRCs are            needs by responding earlier and more
     reframed service environment that             being invited and joining with other            meaningfully to reports of child abuse
     people enjoy and want to come back            agencies in community capacity build-           and neglect. Families are encouraged
     to is not lost in the rest of the service     ing and development. Engaging in                to participate voluntarily in commu-
     system. Efforts to humanize lobbies and       work aimed at social change opens up            nity supports and services in order to
     waiting areas as places that invite active    many opportunities to contribute to             reduce the risk of abuse that may lead
     engagement rather than passive waiting        processes that improve the quality of           to the removal of children from their
     are taking hold.                              individual, family and community life.          home (Strengthening California
Families Through Differential Response,      development. It recognizes and                not yet fully integrated in the graduate
Foundation Consortium 2005). The             supports what has become visible/             training received by social workers and
growing number of county child wel-          possible through the family strength-         family therapy clinicians. There is ample
fare services departments in California      ening lens.                                   evidence in the work being carried out        17
that are utilizing FRCs as the platform      There is some concern among                   in the field, especially in the community-
for the delivery of local community          practitioners that the apparently             based sector, to persuade academia that
services within the context of Dif-          effective strength-based approaches           this change in perspective is worthy of
ferential Response is an encouraging         to families now commonly used are             inclusion in professional training courses.

                                            Reflections from the field
Madera Family Resource Center,               not like going to the typical county or       child whole, or the glass full, they fight
Madera, Madera County                        government office for services.                for their child to be involved in every
                                                                                           service available. Some children come
“My red couch draws people                   Westside Family Resource &                    to the FRC already engaged in 40-50
into my agency”                              Empowerment Center, Culver                    hours of programming per week, an
   Elizabeth Catanesi, FRC Manager           City, Los Angeles County                      imbalance that negatively impacts every
                                             “You’ve got a child, not a                    member of the family.
The lobby is spacious enough for two
                                             diagnosis. When was the last                  At Westside FRC the emphasis is on
seating areas furnished with comfort-        time you sat and read a story                 strategies that ensure the health and
able couches and arm chairs. Children        to your child?”                               functioning of every family member.
are fascinated by the large fish tank            Elizabeth Spencer, Center                  Parents are encouraged to see disabil-
against the wall, and frequently have to        Coordinator                                ity as normal, and define their child’s
be pried away from the play equipment                                                      issue simply in terms of severity. Their
                                             Parents struggling to adjust to the
when parents are ready to leave. Many                                                      disabled child is counted not as 50%
                                             reality of raising a child with special
of the pictures on the walls in the          needs frequently see their child and          but 150% at Westside. The challenge
building are reproductions of work by        their world as a glass three quarters         for the family and new parents of a
Mexican artists. It all adds up to a very                                                  disabled child is not about the end of
                                             empty. In the belief and hope that
                                                                                           life but the beginning of a new life.
different experience for families. It’s      they can compensate by making their

               Questions:                    approach add to the current array of          new ways of moving forward, e.g., how
                                             treatment options?                            many times is child abuse a reflection
How would the human service field                                                           of multi-generational family and envi-
be different if family strengthening was               Recommendations:                    ronmental issues such as poverty, family
the commonly adopted approach taken                                                        violence, educational neglect, and lack
by all social and community services         Articulate the family-strengthening
                                                                                           of access to health care?
aimed at family growth and change?           approach at community, program and
                                             network planning meetings. Make efforts       As suggested by Frameworks research,
What kind of impact would this have                                                        cross sector consideration is needed to
                                             to ensure that staff understand that they
on the people who access and receive                                                       reframe child abuse prevention with a
                                             have a role as catalysts for reframing
human services?                                                                            new and thoughtful paradigm that will
                                             alternative responses to the issues affect-
As FRCs increasingly are integrated          ing the lives of children and families.       lead to effective community action and
into county systems designed to serve                                                      support for children and families rather
people with chronic mental illnesses,        FRCs individually and collectively join       than a blame game. (See Framework for
serious child abuse and/or substance         the larger debate in order to contrib-        the Prevention of Child Maltreatment,
abuse issues, what strengths and chal-       ute family perspectives that help to          Children’s Bureau, US Department of
lenges does the family strengthening         reframe recalcitrant issues and open up       Health and Human Services, 2007).
4. Changes in Systems Thinking
The FRC place-based work with families is continuing to develop and articulate the
philosophy for the delivery of family services posited in Vehicles for Change (California,
HHSA 2000).

Over the past ten years, the work accomplished by FRCs in California has evolved as a move-
ment to strengthen families and is being increasingly recognized in other areas of the human
services. Most notably, local county mental health and child welfare departments are now con-
tracting with FRCs to take advantage of the success of this approach with families to improving
the quality of their lives.

Vehicles for Change promoted the premises and principles of family support that have acted
as the guidelines for FRCs across the state (see “Principles of Family Support Practice” in the
Appendices). There is ample evidence that the place-based, family-focused, community-sup-
ported and strength-based approaches outlined in Vehicles for Change are having a positive
impact not only on families, but also on the wider human services system. These shifts in our
view of families are changing the ways in which services are presented, our expectations of
families, and ultimately the outcomes of the services families receive.
The chart below shows in simple terms some of the broad changes in service
delivery that are taking place as the FRC family strengthening model is practiced
increasingly in FRCs and beyond..

            Family Support                         Traditional Services

   needs early                               needs intensify

   special services and referrals            treatments

   community needs                           dictate services

   home-like centers


Youth for Change, Paradise,                ships with children and adults, rather      Chula Vista Community
                                                     Recommendations:                  California Department of Public Health,
Butte County                               than reactive, out of control patterns of   Collaborative (CVCC), Chula
                                           behavior thatand statecrises and abuse”.
                                           Engage local lead to academic institu-
                                                                                       Epidemiology & Prevention for
                                                                                       Vista, San Diego County. Injury
“Be the best I can be for me
                                                                                       Branch, and the California Depart-
and my family” is the client               tions to further the research on the         “School is more than a place
Are we able to present adequate data       “Single focus providers (like me) are       ment of Social Services, Office of Child
mantra that is replacing the               impact of family strengthening work in      for (academic) learning”.
and make the case for change to local      thankfully being drawn into work with       Abuse Prevention.
institutional edict of the past,           California.                                   Heather Nemour, CVCC Coordinator
and state legislators by indicating the    multidisciplinary teams”.
“Do your best for me”.                     Support statewide systems change by                         Questions:
human, social and fiscal benefits of the     “Caring, client-focused interactions        The isolation in which schools have
“The assumption of the personal            encouraging work outside government         struggled to deal with the many issues
systems changes resulting from the         are replacing fear- and anxiety-based       Are we able to present adequate data
capacity for responsibility and self       and institutional silos and supporting      that act as barriers to children learn-
work being done by FRCs and their          relationships that were controlled by       and make the case for change to local
control rather than the anonymity and      cross sector policy making. A success-      ing has been reduced in some school
partners?                                  the service provider”.
social control implied by being desig-     ful example of what becomes possible        and state legislators by indicating of
                                                                                       districts by the measurable resultsthe
nated as number”. partners within
How, a embedded                            wasJean Lawrence, School conference,
                                                provided by the 2008 Counseling        human, social and fiscal Healthy Starts
                                                                                       the work carried out bybenefits of the
human service delivery systems, can            Clinician
                                           “Discover the Connections! Bridging         systems past 15 years. The notion
                                                                                       over the changes resulting from the
“The goal for parents of conscious,
we maintain our role as advocates for      Strategies to Prevent Child Injury and      work whole child is beginning their
                                                                                       of thebeing done by FRCs and to be
disciplined responses in their relation-
change?                                    Maltreatment” co-sponsored by the           partners?
20                                              Reflections from the field (continued)

       reognized by schools at a pragmatic        Accurately targeted, coordinated and        The capacity to avert crisis and prevent
       level. It includes and encourages          consensual interventions with fami-         related issues from escalating to the
       attempts by Healthy Starts and their       lies are prevention work. At its best,      point of crisis is increasingly recognized
       service partners to resolve family and     such work results in the resolution of      as an effective way to reduce human,
  Pull quote: Lorem
       local community issues that educators      crisis and the reduction or preven-         social and economic hardship. The
  ipsum dolor sit amet,
       in schools are not equipped to address     tion of similar crises in the future. The   evidence from the family strengthening
                                                                                              field might be useful in the determina-
  consectetuer adipiscing
       by themselves.                             continuum of assessments carried out
                                                                                              tion of funding by policy makers who
                                                  by FRCs frequently identifies multiple
        sed diam nonummy
  elit,Youth for Change, Paradise,                service needs beyond the request            struggle with decisions to allocate funds
       Butte County
  nibh euismod tincidunt                          described initially by the family member    for intervention or prevention.
       “The daily work in FRCs demon-             asking for help. Following the assess-
  ut laoreet dolore magna
       strates clearly that the dichot-           ment, any part of the network of
  aliquam erat volutpat. and
       omy between intervention                   relationships that the FRC maintains
       prevention is largely false”.              with other providers can be activated
          Ted Klemm, Community Based              and made available as a series of con-
          Program Administrator                   nections to the family in need.

                                                                Questions:                    ful example of what becomes possible
                                                                                              was provided by the 2008 conference,
                                                  Are we able to present adequate data        “Discover the Connections! Bridging
                                                  and make the case for change to local       Strategies to Prevent Child Injury and
                                                  and state legislators by indicating the     Maltreatment” co-sponsored by the
                                                  human, social and fiscal benefits of the      California Department of Public Health,
                                                  systems changes resulting from the          Epidemiology & Prevention for Injury
                                                  work being done by FRCs and their           Branch, and the California Depart-
                                                  partners?                                   ment of Social Services, Office of Child
                                                                                              Abuse Prevention.
                                                  How, as embedded partners within
                                                  human service delivery systems, can         As a result of this conference there is
                                                  we maintain our role as advocates for       increased intra-departmental commu-
                                                  change?                                     nication and a deeper understanding of
                                                                                              how respective fields of work intersect,
                                                           Recommendations:                   giving rise to opportunities to work
                                                                                              together and leverage resources.
                                                  Engage local and state academic institu-
                                                  tions to further the research on the
                                                  impact of family strengthening work in

                                                  Support statewide systems change by
                                                  encouraging work outside government
                                                  and institutional silos and supporting
                                                  cross sector policy making. A success-
5. Relationships as the Essence
of the Work
Transformative human relationships are fundamental to the way that FRCs work with
individuals, families, service providers and communities.
Along the continuum from the well-established to newly emerging FRCs, the value and criti-
cal importance of authentic human relationships to family strengthening work is evidenced
by the investment of time and energy in relationship building by agency staff at all levels. The
demands on staff of this highly interactive work is not without risks. These include high staff
attrition rates, frequently due to stress and burnout. Valuing, strengthening and caring for staff
contributes to the maintenance of their healthy functioning. Developing and training parents as
advocates and peer group leaders and using graduate level interns are strategies for reducing
some of the pressure on staff.
     One tool that reflects the role of the       evidence that indicates that a family’s       processes of family development and
22                                               connection to an FRC over time and
     relationships family have with FRC staff                                                  change.
     is the Family Development Matrix. The       the stability that it affords increases the
                                                                                               Relational work with other professionals
     FDM is a strength-based assessment          likelihood of the family achieving self-
                                                 sufficiency.                                   and practitioners comes with it own set
     tool that measures family progress on
                                                                                               of demands for FRC staff. Building and
     mutually agreed upon goals. It reflects
                                                 Some thought and advocacy might be            maintaining relationships in a multi-dis-
     the role of the relationships families      prudent regarding the critical part that
     have with staff in the FRC. Apart from                                                    ciplinary environment requires skill and
                                                 relationship development and main-
     the issues that brought the family to                                                     adaptability. Issues of terminology, regula-
                                                 tenance plays in the success of FRCs.
     the resource center, FDM measures                                                         tion, institutional culture and differing
                                                 Strategies to cover this labor-intensive
     of well-being are generally high. As                                                      disciplinary perspectives and values
                                                 aspect of FRCs’ functioning need to be
     relationships between the family and                                                      can act as barriers to relationships that
                                                 developed in ways that are recognized
     the FRC staff person grow stronger                                                        “get things done.” Staff working in FRCs
                                                 and acceptable to all types of funding
     and more trusting, the revelation of        sources. This relates to the point to be      who take the time to develop positive
     other deeper, underlying issues occurs.     made in the following section of this         relationships with receptionists, line staff
     At this point the family’s sense and        paper, “Evaluation and Marketing.” There      and professionals in other agencies are
     measure of well-being diminishes, only      is a need to “tell the story” concern-        often able to act as the bridge builders
     to rise again over time as issues start     ing the intangible, qualitative aspects of    and service brokers in the local service
     to get resolved. There is also a body of    the work done in FRCs to facilitate the       delivery system.

                                                Reflections from the field
      Youth for Change, Paradise,                maintaining such working                      the buses didn’t pass by their farms
      Butte County                               relationships takes time.”                    anymore and were missed. Back at the
      “FRCs are really resorting to an               Ted Klemm, Community Based                school I checked on the bus routes to
      old way of doing things. They                  Program Administrator.                    find that they had indeed been discon-
      give us the opportunity to take                                                          tinued in the area where the farmers
      back caring for ourselves.”                Woodlake FRC (formerly a                      in the coffee shop farmed. A little
                                                 Healthy Start site)Tulare County              further investigation revealed the fact
      “Building understanding,
                                                 “I was in the donut and coffee shop           that school attendance among students
      respect and trust … connecting
      on the basis of shared values,             in Woodlake around seven o’clock              from that area had dropped consider-
      generating hope and supporting             one morning and overheard a group             ably. You find out what you know from
      progress towards change                    of local farmers I knew talking about         the people who you know...”
      happens best in caring human               school buses. When I asked them what              Diana Pearcy, former Executive
      relationships. Building and                their concern was, several agreed that            Director

                                                 practice, do we need to renew the             How and where do we draw the line
                                                 emphasis on self-care, worksite               between working with families in a
     Recognizing that well-trained and           wellness, renewal, personal and               clinical or quasi- clinical role and joining
     compassionate people are the                professional growth to ensure that            them as partners and constituents in
     “technology of choice” for effective        we are thriving personally and                advocacy work?
     delivery of family strengthening            professionally?
                                                  Building and maintaining relationships
                                                  in a multi-disciplinary environment
                                                  requires skill and adaptability. Issues of
                                                  terminology, regulation, institutional
How do we cover the cost of staff
time spent in initiating, building and
                                                  culture and differing disciplinary                                                  23
maintaining the relationships that are            perspectives and values can act as barriers
the essence of family and community
                                                  to relationships that “get things done”.

                                            Build the emotional intelligence skills      for family success teams to further
Build relationship development time at
                                            in leadership, staff and the families and    develop their skills and improve the cli-
all levels into budgets as a necessary
                                            children of FRCs that are critical to the    mate can be developed on the basis of
component to success in family and
                                            success of all parties.                      the Vital Signs Survey. Six Seconds, Inc.,
community strengthening work, includ-
                                                                                         also has a curriculum on “EQ for Fami-
ing worksite wellness and professional      The Organizational Vital Signs Survey (Six   lies Family Education Workshops on
development.                                Seconds, 1997-2008) is recommended.          Emotional Intelligence” with a four-part
Structure time for ongoing discussion       It measures the climate of the FRCs,         series of two-hour workshops that
about the dynamics of the organic and       focusing on five factors: accountability      FRCs can use with families: “Emotional
                                            and responsibility, collaboration and        Literacy,” “Accountability and Choices,”
transformative work going on between
                                            problem solving, perception of lead-         “Optimism and Resilience,” and “Empa-
individuals, families and the staff in an
                                            ership, alignment to the mission and         thy and Acceptance.”
FRC, with special attention to changing
roles, cultural norms and landscapes.       adaptability to change. Action plans
6. Evaluation and
FRCs are not yet adequately telling the story of their
contributions and successes as one of the new vehicles in
the service delivery system.

In most FRCs there is an abundance of quantitative and qualita-
tive data collected by the staff and the other service partners
with whom they work. At most established FRCs an array of
interconnected services are available to clients whose many
issues require the multidisciplinary approach that has become
the hallmark of FRCs. As required, FRCs and their partners col-
lect data that is reported separately to various private and public
program funding sources. Most of the data is therefore scattered
across different program records and reports. It is not easily
aggregated or presented in a simple report that highlights the
role of the FRC in the outcomes achieved by families. Accessing,
analyzing and presenting this data is still beyond the capacity of
many community-based FRCs.

However the sustainability of FRCs in a market place that is
demanding increased accountability and imposes cyclical fiscal
constraints is dependent on evidence of improvements in the
well-being of families and children’s safety. Aggregating the quan-
titative data resulting from the work with families, and developing
narratives around the qualitative changes families are able to
make in their lives are priorities that the family strengthening field
can no longer avoid.
Recently a research-based tool that        department to use the FDM as part                More recently, OCAP has embraced
meets higher standards for data collec-
                                           of the implementation of Differential            the work of Lisbeth Schorr and Vicky
tion and analysis for measuring changes    Response. A research team is currently           Marchand, which is documented in
in family functioning and well-being has   working with ICCS and Strategies to              Pathways to the Prevention of Child
been developed. The Family Develop-                                                         Abuse and Neglect (Harvard University
                                           further refine the tool and strengthen
ment Matrix (FDM) referred to above                                                         Press, 2007). The Pathways Mapping
                                           it’s ability to relate impact to intervention.
was originally developed in 1996 as                                                         Initiative, which is based on Schorr and
part of the Clinton era Outcomes and       The FDM is a strength-based, family              Marchand’s work, articulates six sets of
Responsibility Act. Over the past five      driven, on line tool that fits with the           actions including goals, family targets
years the California Department of         relationship based, family strengthening         and outcomes, is likely to become a
Social Services Office of Child Abuse       work that takes place in FRCs. Families          critical way of thinking and organiz-
Prevention (OCAP) has funded a
                                           and FRC staff are able to track a fam-           ing the work of FRCs and measuring
partnership between The Institute for
                                           ily’s progress using multiple indicators         outcomes.
Community Collaborative Studies (ICCS),
                                           that are consensual measures of the
California State University Monterey                                                        The consensus in the field is that
Bay, and Strategies statewide train-       work in which they are engaged. Mea-             improving the story we have to tell
ing and technical assistance centers       surements of performance are being               about the work taking place in FRCs
to develop a process to make pos-          used to empower families and establish           and communities will make it easier to
sible the use of the FDM by FRCs in        results-based accountability. The mea-           influence policy for family and com-
California. Since 2004, sixty FRCs in      sured outcomes of success delivered              munity strengthening, and enhance the
13 counties have partnered with their      by the FDM can be persuasive inclu-              marketing of FRCs to potential non-
respective county child welfare (CWS)      sions in funding applications.                   governmental funding sources.

                                       Reflections from the field
Alisal Community Healthy Start,            follow up surveys, and making phone              What are the effects of prevention?
Salinas, Monterey County                   calls to our graduates, we are collecting        We are not measuring the outcomes
                                           information about college attendance,            of inoculation against risk factors or
“I am tracking 15 budgets. We
                                           job skill training, job placement and            the development of protective factors.
get funding from 15 different
                                           income. Ironically this information is           What for instance are the long-term
sources. For each one I am col-
                                           only available after services have been          benefits if mom learns self advocacy as
lecting specific data and writ-             completed and data collection required           a result of involvement in FRC based
ing reports. Frankly it’s a lot of         by the funding source is over.”                  or referred programs? Do her kids
work and that’s why I have an                                                               grow up knowing how to take care of
analyst on my staff now…                       Annabelle Rodriguez,
                                                                                            themselves, to take control and respon-
                                               Alisal Unified School District
But all that data we collect does not                                                       sibility in their own lives?”
                                               Healthy Start Manager
really help us to describe the impact                                                          Ted Klemm, Community Based
of our work. As an organization we are     Youth for Change, Paradise,                         Programs Administrator
starting to look at long-term outcomes.    Butte County
What for example are literacy skills,      “For years we have studied
gained after completing our two-year       morbidity, not resiliency. We
literacy program, doing for the quality    have addressed our work from
of life in the client’s family? By doing   the deficit model perspective.
                                                How can we attract research dollars         accounting for results and outcomes
26                 Questions:
                                                to look into the short and long term        that occurred outside the parameters
     Why aren’t we effectively telling the      impacts of family strengthening work?       of a logic model or scope of work
     valuable story of FRCs and family                                                      document. Suggest partnering with
     strengthening work?                                 Recommendations:                   anthropologists and sociologists to take
                                                                                            advantage of ethnographic reporting
     How do we support innovative               Develop strategies to make the cap-
                                                                                            techniques including photos, parent
     evaluation of the transformational rela-   ture and measurement of impacts that
                                                                                            testimonies, photo-voice, photo novella,
     tionships that are fundamental to the      occur not only during families’ engage-
                                                                                            murals and art projects etc.
                                                ment with services but beyond, to begin
     success of family strengthening work?
                                                to make the case for long-term impact.      Be vigilant that evaluation requirements
     Do we need an entity to collect and                                                    do not drive projects. In the case of
                                                Strategically build, nurture and maintain
     collate data and narratives and publish                                                new evidence-based programs, ensure
                                                relationships with allies, champions and
     it on behalf of the family strengthening                                               that there is funding for adequate
     field in the same way that child welfare                                                evaluation in the implementation phase.
     services have used UC Berkeley’s Child     Challenge the evaluation and research       The expenses for the initial evaluation
     Trends data collection capacity.?          fields to help develop methods               protocols are rarely extended beyond
                                                                                            the developmental stage.

                                                                                            Consider the value of an in-house or
                                                                                            contracted analyst to collate data and
                                                                                            assist with the compilation of reports
                                                                                            for funders, policy makers, politicians
                                                                                            and the media.

     There is a need to “tell the story”
     concerning the intangible, qualitative
     aspects of the work done in FRCs
     to facilitate the processes of family
     development and change.
7. Funding Stability
Multiple funding sources are being accessed as FRCs become embedded in local service
delivery systems.
The philosophical and pragmatic case for FRCs is now better articulated than it was a decade ago.
Making the case for the effectiveness of family strengthening through the work of FRCs is resulting
not only in the continued co-location with service partners in FRCs, but is also engendering con-
tracts that provide income. Multiple, renewable contracts with continuously funded agencies, e.g.
county mental health and child welfare departments, are now providing sources of relatively stable
funding that are contributing to the continuity of programming. Through networking, collaboration
and partnering, FRCs are increasingly recognized as an indispensable part of the educational, child
welfare and human services systems. By virtue of programmatic and fiscal contracting, they become
embedded in the service system.

This development has positive implications for the sustainability of FRCs and their ability to lever-
age other sources of funding. It also suggests recognition of the value placed on family strengthening
work by other service disciplines. Working in integrated partnerships with government funded
human service programs, FRCs can complement the work being done with families, taking it to a
level and depth that is beyond the scope of large public agencies and programs.
     Charles Watson, (former executive               unit, limits the concept of holistic family   Start sites that were often located in
28                                                   services. Likewise, the narrow interpre-
     director of Interface Children Family                                                         communities where family strengthening
     Services, the home of Strategies,               tation of the value of FRCs by school         services were most needed.
     Region 2) in a publication entitled             administrators and school boards may
                                                                                                   As newly established FRCs build struc-
     Beyond the Rhetoric (July 2006), lays out       have limited the possibilities represented
                                                     by the Healthy Start “seed monies.”           tural and programmatic capacity and
     ways in which the challenges of such
                                                     Some schools bought in initially to the       become better integrated with local
     public, private and non-profit partner-
                                                     concept of Healthy Starts while funding       institutions and systems there are more
     ships can be met.
                                                     was available, but failed to see their        complex and demanding sources of
     There is evidence that the structuring          potential as an adjunct school service.       funding that might be considered. These
     of FRCs can be more or less effective           Strategies for programmatic and fiscal         funding sources include charges that
     in the procurement and sustainability           sustainability beyond the three years         can be made to third party payers for
     of FRC funding. First 5 funding, with its       of California Department of Educa-            Early Periodic Screening and Diagnostic
     requirement that a child under the age          tion funding were not developed. This         Testing (EPSDT), and Medical Adminis-
     of six years must be part of the service        resulted in the closure of many Healthy       trative Activities (MAA).

                                                    Reflections from the field
                                                     Kings Partnership for Children,               also looking at donations and
                                                     Hanford, Kings County                         entrepreneurial opportunities
                                                                                                   like a thrift store or undertak-
                                                     “We have contracts with the
                                                                                                   ing outreach for a new clinic
                                                     County, United Way, Adventist                 that the hospital is going to
                                                     Health and State Farm, and we                 open”.
                                                     go after grants when I can find                   Dr. Kim Wildey, Executive Director
                                                     the time to write them. We are                   Hand in Hand FRC

                     Questions:                                Recommendations:                    Make available advice, boiler plate
                                                                                                   contracts and MOU documents to
     Is there a need to further expand FRCs          Consider developing materials to assist
                                                                                                   assist FRCs negotiate partnerships with
     ability to manage complex funding and           FRCs to market themselves to founda-
                                                                                                   government, private and other non
     larger sustainability issues through efforts    tions and diverse governmental agencies.
                                                                                                   profit service providers.
     like the Strategies Sustainability Project?
                                                     Assist all FRCs to have in place at least
                                                     a three year fund development plan            Assess the extent to which FRCs are
     Can we develop marketing tools for FRCs
                                                     that ties to their strategic plan and         currently working with local public
     based on broad indicators of success?
                                                     includes grant funds, county contracts,       health, area clinics and hospitals to
     Could FRCs be partnering with                   private funding through donations, fees       deliver services, and explore the oppor-
     corporate and business entities on              where possible and social entrepre-           tunities for FRCs to become embedded
     entrepreneurial efforts to generate             neurial endeavors.                            in the health care delivery system.
     discretionary funds for their programs?
                                                     Explore and publish information about
     Is the health delivery system another           compatible, creative and proven entre-
     potential major partner for increasing          preneurial endeavors that have the
     access to services (particularly preven-        potential to produce sources of
     tion) at the local level?                       discretionary income for FRCs.
8. Staffing FRC’s
Recruiting local paraprofessionals with passion and a
desire to improve their community results in a dedicated,
culturally appropriate and familiar work force that connects
with families but raises some issues.
Acknowledgement and thanks are due to the countless individu-
als who signed on as entry level employees in the new wave of
FRCs as they emerged across California in the 1990s. Many of
these hard working staff stayed the course to become the skilled
and experienced cadre of leaders without whose efforts the field
would not be where it is today.

The paraprofessional work force in FRCs may include Ameri-
Corps members, individuals gaining work experience through
economic development agencies, and/or Welfare to Work train-
ees. The affordability of staff from these programs makes them
attractive in terms of personnel cost savings. The work experi-
ence gained in these temporary placements is invaluable to the
individuals recruited. However, the gains are offset by the neces-
sary investment of training and support that such staff require.
AmeriCorps members, for example, receive a core training
outside the FRC but require approximately 20% of FRC staff
supervisors’ time for custom training, support and supervision.
Staff retention rates, the continuity of relationships, and services
for families are also factors that have to be weighed against the
work experience gains for short term workers. Stretching scarce
FRC dollars and increasing individual and community capacity are
gains that have to be analyzed in terms of the cost to long-term
staff and agency programs.
     The fact that paraprofessionals are           ing that recognizes a paraprofessional
30   employed in most FRCs also raises             who has met the prescribed standards
     complex issues around quality assurance       could have multiple benefits. A measure
     and standards for family strengthen-          of competence in the practices used by
     ing practice. Santa Cruz County, Kern         paraprofessional working with families
     County and San Francisco have devel-          would be assured. The field would
     oped voluntary standards of practice          receive additional recognition for the
     for FRCs in their jurisdictions. Cornell      use of credentialed staff by other human
     University offers a Family Development        service providers and funding agencies.
     Credential, now available in California       Credentialing for the individual para-
     through the Los Angeles County Office          professional may serve as a stepping
     of Education in a partnership with some       stone to further education and a better
     community colleges, suited to frontline       paying job. One drawback to setting a
     workers in FRCs.                              preference on credentialing for para-
     Some consideration of the develop-            professional workers is the hardship this
     ment of county and/or California              may cause in rural and/or more remote
     statewide standards, training to meet         areas of the state, where qualified staff
     such standards, and possible credential-      at any level can be hard to recruit.

                                                  Reflections from the field
     Friendly Center Family and                    They know. They have been
     Community Resource Center,                    there. That’s why they are so                 with parent involvement they
     Orange, Orange County                         good at their job”.                           make many of the programs
                                                                                                 and events we have possible
     “As the Program Director, I                      Cynthia Drury, Program Director
                                                                                                 and culturally relevant… We
     receive both calls and notes                                                                proposed a pie baking contest a
                                                   Madera Family Resource Center,
     of appreciation from clients                                                                while back and it was local com-
                                                   Madera, Madera County
     commending our staff. Many of                                                               munity members who suggested
     our front line staff are former               “ I would be severely limited in              to me that a salsa contest might
     clients or ‘could have been’                  the services that I can offer on              be more appropriate!”
     clients. They are empathic,                   site if local AmeriCorps members
                                                                                                    Elizabeth Catanesi, FRC Manager
     understanding and supportive.                 were not available. Together

                                                   for social workers, school and family         Corps and licensed childcare providers
                                                   counselors, and teachers?                     courses may initially provide examples.
     To safeguard families, improve practices
                                                             Recommendations:                    Increase content about FRCs, as a vital
     and increase the credibility of the family
                                                                                                 part of the human services delivery sys-
     strengthening field, should we be develop-     Make an ongoing investment in staff           tem, in the training received by graduate
     ing minimum standards for FRC line staff      acknowledgement and training at all levels.   students in education, social work and
     (case managers, family advocates etc.)?
                                                   Form a representative work group              marriage and family therapy. Encour-
     Does knowledge and understanding of           tasked with the development of a Family       age the use of FRCs as sites for student
     the family strengthening field need to         Strengthening Credential to be offered at     internships.
     be part of the professional education         the community college level. The Ameri-
9. Emerging FRC’s
FRCs funded by First 5 and other non-governmental sources have experienced some
resistance in their attempts to join and integrate with local services providers and sys-
tems, and are vulnerable due to precarious funding.
Unquestionably, First 5 funding has provided a platform for the expansion of FRCs both in
terms of numbers and geographic reach across the state. The exciting addition of new FRCs
is heightened by the inclusion of innovative youth-focused agencies and special needs-focused
agencies for instance, as well as agencies based in rural and mountain areas that may not be

Emerging FRCs often find themselves in a unique position. On the one hand, as a result of
their relationship with a community based organization, they have opportunities to be creative
in ways that an institutional association often does not permit. On the other hand, the funding
for emerging FRCs is precarious until they are recognized by – and embedded in – the local
service delivery system, leaving them vulnerable to closure.
     The initial resistance from established    the part of the existing group and new        The field as a whole faces the challenge
32                                              agencies and programs.                        of making the case with policy mak-
     human, health and educational services
     experienced by some new FRCs seems                                                       ers and funders that the investment
                                                The service parameters imposed by
     to have been predicated on a lack of                                                     in work with families, according to the
                                                First 5 funding, i.e. a child 0-5 years
     understanding about the importance of                                                    data we have, seems to be the best
                                                must reside with the family, pres-
                                                                                              way to improving outcomes for chil-
     early childhood development. Edu-          ent a dilemma for some FRC boards             dren. The need to shift the culture at all
     cation, patience and persistence on        and executive directors who have to           levels in favor of family strengthening is
     the part of the FRCs staff have been       choose between the development of             clearly demonstrated in counties where
     rewarded by their gradual acceptance       expertise in serving families with very       the majority of child abuse prevention
     in most cases. However, it remains         young children, versus seeking funding        funding is invested in programs for
     the case that fitting into and moving       to serve clients across the life span. This   individual children. Funding allocations
     between collaboratives and networks        may also be a dilemma faced by FRCs           that favor services for children reduce
     requires time-consuming learning,          seeking other sources of categorical          the resources and opportunities for
     adjustment and accommodation on            funding.                                      working with families.

                                               Reflections from the field
     Kings Partnership for Children             businesses. We serve everyone in the          We are still being asked the ‘so
     (KPC), Hanford, Kings County               family and we need to diversify funding       what’ question. Until I can sell
     “I think the saying goes, “Don’t
                                                so that we can more fully do that.”           the current program with its
     put all your eggs in one basket”                                                         focused funding, I don’t think
                                                   Dr. Kim Wildey, Executive Director,
                                                                                              we should diversify”
     but I am going to carry as many               Hand in Hand FRC
     eggs as I can in this basket.”                                                               Elizabeth Catanesi, FRC Manager
                                                Madera Family Resource Center,
     “Kings Partnership is always looking
                                                Madera, Madera County
     to increase and grow its partnerships
     with government, non-profit agencies,       “We have chosen so far
     institutions and programs as well as       to stick to the knitting…

                   Questions:                   benefit from established FRCs? What                      Recommendations:
                                                kind of support would be needed for
     Is the sharing of experience and           established FRCs to mentor emerging           Advocate for longer funding periods
     ideas through the Working Strategies       FRCs?                                         for FRCs in recognition of the time
     [newsletter] sufficient for new FRCs to                                                   needed to develop the multiple rela-
                                                                                              tionships within the local professional
                                       FRC staff members are                                  and lay community necessary for family
                                                                                              strengthening work.
                                       thinking about how to
                                                                                              Invest in sustainability planning that is
                                       improve the field, ranging                              informed about the nature of family
                                       from the need for staff                                strengthening work.

                                       credentialing, consistent
                                       self care and training,
                                       stable funding and effec-
                                       tive organizing for change.
10. Conclusion                                                                                                                       33

Family Resource Centers have proven         and the footprint made by Family            approaches to influence family and
themselves to be prudent, vital and         Support America.                            child related policy on a wider scale
creative partners within the human                                                      and across multiple disciplines.
                                            In their article, “Appreciative Inquiry”,
service delivery system in most
                                            Neil Boyd and David Bright (Commu-          FRC staff members are thinking about
California counties. Their increasing
                                            nity Psychology, Vol. 35, 2007) suggest,    how to improve the field, ranging
integration with governmental, private
                                            “The image embedded within the              from the need for staff credential-
and non-profit agencies is testimony to
                                            very questions we ask have enormous         ing, consistent self care and training,
the value and respect they have earned
                                            potential for unlocking possible action-    stable funding and effective organizing
for the work they do with families and
                                            able answers.” The rich responses to        for change. It is well understood that
the outcomes they achieve. Family
                                            the simple question we asked, “What         healthy, well-trained and energized staff
Strengthening is now recognized as
                                            makes your FRC successful?” are con-        are best able to engage with families in
a powerful theoretical and practical
                                            densed in this paper. They are intended     the kind of transformational relation-
approach to facilitating and supporting
                                            as a tribute to a field where dedicated,     ships that ultimately benefit children.
families who need and want to make
                                            hard working people engage with
changes that allow their children to
                                            families every day to help them make        In conclusion, it is perhaps true to
grow, learn and thrive in safe, nurturing
                                            changes in their lives and the lives of     say that the vision laid out in Family
                                            their children.                             Resource Centers: Vehicles for Change
While recognizing the work of the                                                       (State of California, HHSA, 2000),
                                            Indeed, the question we asked as we
numerous FRCs that have been                                                            which promoted a flexible model
                                            set out to gather information from the
developed in the past fifteen years,                                                     for the development of quality fam-
                                            field for this paper did unlock many
we would be remiss if we did not                                                        ily resource centers across the state,
                                            possible “actionable” answers.
recognize the contribution made by                                                      has been realized by so many people
the older established centers, some         As staff reflected back, on how far          in so many ways. The FRCs that were
of which have been operational for          individual centers have come, they          called “vehicles for change” in fami-
decades. The generosity with which          often made projections about the            lies’ lives can now be seen as leading
they have shared their knowledge and        future. Provocative questions were          an expanded movement for change.
experience has been, and continues          asked and thoughtful suggestions made.      From the platform for service delivery
to be, an inspiration to the Family         Agencies recognized the potential           created by FRCs in many communities,
Strengthening field. There have also         expanded roles they might explore           the field is in a position to take on the
been outstanding individual contribu-       in neighborhoods, in partnership            challenges outlined in this paper. As we
tions that have been crucial to the         with local residents. Staff articulated     look into the future, Family Resource
development of the field, including          a vision for increasing the depth and       Centers and their numerous partners
Lisbeth Schorr’s comprehensive              scope of partnerships with agencies         offer the potential to change lives, fami-
overview Within Our Reach, her more         and institutions whose work bears
                                                                                        lies, communities and systems in ways
recent work with Vicki Marchand on          on the lives of children and families.
                                                                                        that will ensure the greater safety and
the Pathways Project, Charles Breuner’s     This work was regarded as necessary
                                                                                        success of all of our children and the
work on evaluation, the Strengthening       and advantageous to all stakeholders.
                                                                                        families to which they belong.
Families work published by the Center       Harnessing collective grass roots and
for the Study of Social Policy, D.C.,       agency strengths were suggested as
Appendix A
Appreciative Inquiry Interviews Sites                                                                                                            35

                                Siskiyou                        Modoc

                      Trinity            Shasta                    Lassen

              Mendocino                     Butte
                                 Colusa                            a



                         Lake                                       Placer

                     Sonoma             Yolo         El Dorado

                                 Napa                           Alpine

                                                    mad ras


                                     Solano                e
                Marin                                  lav
                                    Contra San      Ca
                                      Costa Joaquin
                 San                                                                     Mono
                 Francisco           Alameda
                                             Stanislaus Mariposa
                       Mateo             Santa
                                          Clara            Merced
                          Santa                                        Madera
                                                     San                        Fresno

                                               Monterey                                  Tulare

                                                                  Obispo                  Kern

                                                                       Barbara                                        San Bernardino
                                                                                     Ventura      Angeles

                                                                                                      Orange              Riverside

                                                                                                                   San Diego          Imperial
     Appendix B
36   Appreciative Inquiry Interviews Sites

     Alisal Community Healthy Start    1441 Del Monte Avenue, Salinas, CA 93905

     Chula Vista Community             511 G Street, Chula Vista, CA 91911

     Friendly Center                   147 West Rose Ave. Orange, CA 92856

     Madera Family Resource Center     525 East Yosemite Ave. Madera, CA 93638

     River Oak Center for Children     4322 4th Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95817
     Birth and Beyond

     Westside Family Resource &        5901 Green Valley Circle, Suite 320, Culver City,
     Empowerment Center                CA 90230

     Woodlake Family Resource Center   168 North Valencia Blvd. Woodlake CA 93286

     Youth for Change                  6249 Skyway, Paradise, CA 95969
Appendix C
Principles of Family Support Practice                                                        37

1. Staff and families work together in relationships based on equality and respect.

2. Staff enhances families’ capacity to support the growth and development of all family

3. Families are resources to their own members, to other families, to programs, and to

4. Programs affirm and strengthen families’ cultural, racial, and linguistic identities and
   enhance their ability to function in a multiracial society.

5. Programs are embedded in their communities and contribute to the community-
   building process.

6. Programs advocate with families for services and systems that are fair, responsive, and
   accountable to the families served.

7. Practitioners work with families to mobilize formal and informal resources to support
   family development.

8. Programs are flexible and continually responsive to emerging family and community

9. Principles of family support are modeled in all program activities, including planning,
   governance, and administration.

From Family Resource Coalition of America: Guidelines for Family Support Practice
(1996). For more information or to obtain a copy of Guidelines for Family Support Practice
contact the Family Resource Coalition (312) 338-0900. Email:
     California Department of Social Services, Office of Child Abuse Prevention,
     Promoting and Supporting Quality Resource Centers, Strategies Training and Technical Assistance Project,
     June 2001

     California Department of Social Services, Office of Child Abuse Prevention,
     Family Resource Centers: Vehicles for Change, April 2000

     California Family Resource Association (CFRA)         <>

     Family Development Matrix         <>

     Neil M. Boyd and David S. Bright, Appreciative Inquiry, Journal of Community Psychology, Vol. 35, No 8 (2007)

     Family Support is…       <>

     Working Strategies Volumes 1-11         <>

     Malloy, J. and Harlick, D., Healthy Start Works: A Statewide Profile of Healthy Start Sites, Sacramento, CA:
     California Department of Education, March 1999.

     High Performance Partnerships: Trust, Shared Values, Organizational Culture, Joint Resource Development,
     Integrated Learning, Systems Structure and Accountability, Powering the Future. High Performance
     Partnerships, National Academy of Public Administration, April 2003.

     Child Abuse and Neglect Community Indicator Data Report, County of Sacramento, SLPC Consulting
     Associates, Inc., September 2007

     Strengthening Families, Five Protective Factors, Center for the Study of Social Policy, 2007.

     The Organizational Vital Signs Survey, Six Seconds, 1997-2008       <>

     Lisbeth Schorr, Vicky Marchand: Pathways to the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Harvard University
     Press, 2007

     Charles Watson, Beyond the Rhetoric, Interface Children Family Services, Strategies, Region 2, July, 2000.

     Charles Breuner, Discussion Towards a Theory of Change for the Build Initiative Paper, Nov 2004.
Funded by the California Department of Social Service Office of Child Abuse Prevention

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