Rural areas face the same challenges as other communities, but some of the answers can be hard to find. Challenges for families can include: housing, health coverage, available work, high rent vs. low pay, health provider availability, and direct services for individualized resources.
Family Resource Centers (FRCs) are at the heart of the solutions to challenges within the rural community. By offering programs to families that educate them with a two generation approach, FRCs are approaching their work to strengthen both parents and children, where they both can participate and learn together.
Rural communities struggle with a lack of public transportation and a population that can be very spread out. This makes it hard for families to access the resources and supports they need to thrive. There is also the stigma of needing services.
At the Morgan County Family Center (MCFC) in Fort Morgan, we offer an array of programs across the community geared towards meeting the needs of the whole family. We offer several programs that use the two-generation approach within family leadership, child development, health education, youth enrichment and parent education. Each program covers a different age range, benefiting all youth in one way or another, while also benefiting parents.
Families do not fit a “typical” mold. Families come from all levels of economic stability. Some families who are going through a challenging time may not have the knowledge of what resources are available. We ensure that our website is up to date with information about our offered programs, partner with 211, a national mobile app and phone number that can be used to find local resources, and by keeping a constant presence on Social Media. We also partner with local landlords and utility providers so that they can provide our information to families who they feel are experiencing a need.
Family development work is vital in reaching the families and individuals within each community. Advocates meet families on their level, discuss their personal goals and use wrap around services to strengthen the family as a whole by connecting them to local resources and providing support in their journey. Our advocates have also been trained in the Financial Health Institute curriculum to better serve families that need coaching in financial health.
Families who get connected to MCFC, meet with an advocate and through conversations and communication during these visits, it is determined what resources and supports advocates can provide. Advocates set goals with each family, then discuss each action step to reach those goals.
Along with family development work, FRCs collaborate with other community partners to provide additional services, funds through mini-grants, programs, classes and community events to raise awareness. These collaborations within the rural environment are critical to reaching a diverse population and to recruiting families into the programs available.
One partnership we work with is Fort Morgan Cultures United for Progress (FMCUP) to promote reaching our very diverse population through translating services. This helps us offer our programs in more than one language to effectively include as many cultures as we can.
Using evaluation, data, outcomes, and trends the FRCs are able to determine which programs are successful, which programs need more funding and what programs may be needed in the future. FRCs collect and analyze this data to deduce whether the provided resources are moving families in a positive direction on the Economic Self Reliance Scale*. In September one of our programs showed a 70% successful movement for families on the ESR scale.
We are proud of the work we are doing in our community. If you think that MCFC could be a positive resource for you, then don’t hesitate to contact them:
411 Main Street, Suite 100
Fort Morgan, CO 80701
*Economic Self Reliance Scale: This report reviews data related to the domains related to economic self-sufficiency of the Colorado Family Support Assessment 2.0.
By Mary Gross and Jennifer Jaramillo – Morgan County Family Center