Colorado

Honoring their history and culture, Denver Indian Family Resource Center

Colorado is home to more than 111,000 American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people, with many (approximately 45{5174c02ae8af42f0163c0bde243aeca1ac9f4d91a19005bb7e698c1ed57806ea}, or 50,000) living in the Denver metro area. Denver Indian Family Resource Center (DIFRC) works to impact those families involved with the child welfare system, a historic and ongoing challenge within the AI/AN population.

As the Denver metro area continues to shift and grow, it is more important than ever that we make sure there are services available to American Indian and Alaska Native families seeking to prevent and address child abuse and neglect. Located in the Denver metro area, DIFRC has programming focused on a number of services that include impact areas of youth development, parent counseling, family development, and urban community cultural engagement.

DIFRCs mission is to strengthen vulnerable American Indian and Alaska Native children and families through collaborative and culturally responsive services. In this work, DIFRC’s definition of family includes relatives and close friends in order to recognize the re­ality for most Indian family units.

DIFRC has established a revered reputation in the community and demonstrated success in serving as a single point of entry for comprehensive, intensive, and collaborative family-based services for vulnerable AI/AN children and their caregivers with in the Denver metro area Indian community.

To learn more about Denver Indian Family Resource Center, visit their website at www.difrc.org.

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Family Support in Rural Colorado

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{5174c02ae8af42f0163c0bde243aeca1ac9f4d91a19005bb7e698c1ed57806ea} 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
Phone: 970.867.9606
Fax: 970.867.9693
[email protected]

*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

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It Takes a Village: Partnerships That Are Moving FRCA Forward

JULY 30, 2018–In a recent post, we told you about the collaborative efforts between FRCA and Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child Frontiers of Innovation initiative. In addition to this work with FOI, FRCA also partners with many great organizations and foundations across Colorado. As we continue to launch this blog, we’d like to introduce a few of the organizations and people that have been instrumental in the progress of family support and the Family Resource Center Association in the last 25 years. It’s because of their work and the amazing partnerships with our organization, that we can look ahead to future projects that will help families become self-reliant and thriving.

Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Early Childhood  – The Colo. Dept. of Human Services Office of Early Childhood, has been instrumental in supporting the Family Resource Center (FRC) program since day one.  In addition to financial support of Family Support and Strengthening services, they continue to give statutory oversight for the FRC program in the state, and also direct certain family support programs like SafeCare, Community Response, and others, to our local community Family Resource Centers.

Parent Possible – Parent Possible has been a wonderful community partner and collaborator.  Parent Possible brings the Parents as Teachers home visiting program and the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters home visiting program to our centers. These programs help young parents learn best practice parenting techniques.  Parent Possible also helps FRCA design other complimentary programs for young parents.

Rose Community Foundation – Rose Community Foundation has been a champion for the Family Resource Centers and family support in Colorado for over 20 years. Their leadership and collaboration have been invaluable over the decades. They continue to be a supporter, thought partner and champion for Family Resource Centers and the Family Resource Center Association. We value their partnership and want to honor their leadership and support over the last 2 decades.

Thanks to these organizations and their support, FRCA is able to continue important work for families in Colorado.

We would be honored to have you join these organizations in supporting Family Strengthening in Colorado through FRCA.  Learn how to donate here.

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Life takes unexpected turns, but Family Resource Centers provide help and support

JULY 16, 2018 – In my twenties, I was blessed to marry my high-school best friend and longtime sweetheart, Ryan. We were an average couple, like many of you, both working on careers while building our life together.  Life had its ups and downs, but it was good, we were a team. It was the little things in life that we both enjoyed, dinner with our families and attending church on Sundays.

But all of that changed in the summer of 2012 when unexpectedly, Ryan passed away in a motorcycle accident. My life changed instantly. Without him, I felt I had nothing. Within weeks with the loss of a second income, coupled with despair, I found myself homeless. Although loved ones tried to reach out to me, depression, addiction, grief and worst of all hopelessness had me in its grip. For three years I struggled. But then things got worse, I lost my only brother to suicide and then my grandad passed away shortly after.

It was around this time that I found out that I was 27 weeks pregnant. Which absolutely terrified me. There was no way I could bring a child into my mess.  I was terrified for the life of my unborn child as well as the uncertainty of how I would provide for this little baby.  But I made the decision that my child’s life would be a blessing and not a burden, regardless of what I needed to do to change.

I moved in with my mother until I got on my feet. I started eating well, stopped smoking, and maintained my sobriety. I also began going to the library and reading up on all things parenting.  With support and encouragement from family and friends around me, on August 25th 2015, Robert Aurik came into the world at 8 lb. 15 oz. He was a perfectly healthy and beautiful son named after my father in law.

I found out about WIC from a friend.  WIC was the first step in my transition to healthy parenting. I learned about breastfeeding and made a goal to nurse for the first year which helped me stay on track with my sobriety. I was also given the referral to Catholic Charities of Pueblo.

In the spring of 2016 I begin participating in their home visitation program, Parents As Teachers. I quickly found out there were many other programs that I could participate in.  I also started working with a Family Development Worker in the Family Resource Center Program. Alex was able to help me assess my family’s needs, make goals and start focusing on what I could do immediately to change the future of my family. He also informed me of a job opening within Catholic Charities with the HIPPY team. Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters otherwise known as HIPPY.  I applied and a few weeks later I got the exciting news that I was hired!  This meant I could start to provide for Aurik on my own and continue to work on my goals.

The work I do with HIPPY has helped me develop my professional skills as well as encourage me personally. With firsthand knowledge of many of the Catholic Charities programs, I am able to inform the families I see about the great programs we have to offer. I truly love the work I do: networking, assisting families and serving the community.

In the spring of 2018, I am completing my second year as a HIPPY home visitor.  I am now able to pay off the remaining balance of my student loans and I will have money to start my journey towards an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. I have also worked hard and will then be debt-free. This has allowed me to start saving for a down payment on a home!  I’m building a life again for myself and my son.

Most recently I enrolled in the Family Leadership Training Institute program. Each FLTI participant gets the opportunity to work on a community project of their choosing. My project is HOPE, Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement. The project goal is to empower and employ homeless individuals, connect them with community resources and services that are already in place, and beautify our city in the process.

My life has been very different after participating in programs and goal setting at the Family Resource Center and the other programs of Catholic Charities.  Life is full of possibility once again. I have the skills necessary to take care of my son and myself. Additionally, I know where to turn if I need help. I am providing an environment that Aurik is thriving in. I have the respect of my family, coworkers, and people in my community and myself. My life now is filled with hope and happiness.  My experiences have shaped me, but do not define me.

The work at Family Resource Centers is important!  Connecting with families in their time of need is powerful and is life-changing.  It is the little acts of kindness, the encouraging words, the information and resources you share with families that add up and leave our world a little better at the end of each day.  Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.”

– Tamra F.

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Why is Family Support Important?

by Virginia Howey

JUNE 26, 2018 – Parents and caregivers of families of all sizes, make-up, and cultures want what’s best for their children! I’ve been lucky to see this first-hand over the last several decades as I worked directly with families as a childcare provider, preschool teacher, Parents As Teachers Home Visitor and Supervisor, Executive Director of a local Family Resource Center and, the Family Resource Center Association’s Program and Member Services Director and now a contractor serving organizations all over our state. I’d like to share some of my personal observations and experiences of how family support has made a difference in a family’s ability to support their child’s early cognitive development and healthy social-emotional development. I will pose a question at the end of this blog. We want to hear from you. I hope you’ll join this important dialogue!

Family Support Twenty-Five Years Ago

I remember in 1990, a family with three young children that attended the preschool I ran. They had recently experienced an employment lay-off for the breadwinner in the family. Several months prior, the young family moved to our community when a large construction project began. They had been in town a short while and had not yet formed a strong local support system. They didn’t know what resources were available or whom to call first. When they did figure out whom to call, they were told to talk to someone else over and over again. Each resource (i.e., unemployment, Food Stamps, Child Health Plan, Head Start, WIC, housing assistance, utility assistance, etc.) had a different contact person, in a separate office, in a different location, and included different eligibility criteria. There was no one place to go for family-friendly comprehensive planning.

Several years after this occurred, I heard about a Family Resource Center (FRC) that had just opened in a neighboring town. As I learned about the mission of FRC’s, to provide family-friendly coordinated, case management services, I thought about all of the families I had worked with for nearly 20 years that could have benefitted greatly from such a resource. The concept behind the creation of FRCs in Colorado was to address the very issue experienced by the family described above.

Family Support Today

Family Support agencies and organizations have changed in the last 25 years, but families in crises can still find it very difficult to navigate the world of supports and services. The FRCs in Colorado continue to assist families in finding their way through services while setting goals to increase family and children’s well-being.

We have all seen a significant increase in research that supports the role of a nurturing, thriving family to support optimal early childhood outcomes. Just to quote one source:

We know that the way adult caregivers—parents in particular— interact with children during the early years can shape their brain architecture for life, for better and for worse. Children who have experienced nurturing and positive connections have more secure, healthy relationships and are more likely to do well academically and socially into adulthood than children who suffer insensitive or harsh caregiving.   www.zerotothree.org

  • What tools does a family need to provide a “nurturing and positive” environment?
  • How does a family experiencing unemployment, an eviction notice, a utility cut-off notice or any number of other challenges provide such as environment?

For those of us working in the Family Support field, we are regularly tasked with helping families find daily opportunities to do their best for their children, even when they are under stress. The diagram below gives us just a hint of all the different demands a parent/ caregiver must balance so that their family can thrive.

FRCA Member Family Resource Centers across Colorado. 29 organizations serve 46 counties and provide a family-friendly environment for families and access and referrals and direct services such as home visitation programs, parenting classes, early childhood programs, basic needs assistance, and more. An added service provided by these organizations is Family Development Services, which is a strength-based case management that helps families set and meet their own goals to increase their family and children’s well-being. FRC staff actively links families to other resources in the community and provides support during times of need to assure that families successfully access those resources. After short-term goals are met, families can set longer-term goals to achieve sustainable family stability and well-being.   Thriving families contribute to thriving communities!

Family Support in Action

I have seen so many great examples of family support, one family, in particular, comes to mind when I think about successfully integrating timely, comprehensive family support services: Marion*, was attending a parenting class at a local Family Resource Center. She shared during group networking time that she had just received a utility cut-off notice, did not have the money to pay her upcoming rent and had just been notified that her hours had been cut back at work so she didn’t know how she would afford groceries that week. Like most of us in a similar situation, she was panicking and didn’t know where to even begin addressing her multiple challenges. The instructor offered to meet with Marion and the Family Development Worker at this Center the next morning. Together, Marion and the Worker identified and prioritized her goals and the family’s most basic needs. Once the utility and rent bills were taken care of and she visited a food bank, Marion focused on longer-term goals such as gaining education and sustainable employment. She and her Worker developed a strong, trusted relationship and through committed and regular coordination of next steps over a two-year period, including coordination with several other support agencies, she achieved over twenty goals in different self-sufficiency domains (housing, education, childcare, transportation, parenting, and employment). Marion has since received her Certified Nurses Associate certification, which improved her income and, today her children are doing well in school. Marion is providing “nurturing and positive” environment for her children. The family even has a small, but growing, savings account so they are better prepared for unexpected situations.

  • How many similar families during those two years fell through the cracks?
  • Will those parents be able to provide a ‘nurturing and positive” environment for their children during a stressful period?

Local Family Support Efforts

Local communities across Colorado are working together more and more efficiently every year. Many communities are implementing an “any door is the right door” strategy for vulnerable families and children. For instance, in several communities across the state, service providers from multiple family support organizations come together regularly to coordinate their services and, in some cases, to pool their resources to meet emergency family needs such as food, utility or rental assistance, and share other long-term resources. These communities are not only maximizing their resources; they are assuring that fewer families are falling through the cracks by using easy, coordinated access to resources that match their needs without duplicating services.

What’s occurring in your community?

Question: What is your community doing to provide integrated Family Support Services so that fewer families fall through the cracks?  Please share your both your successes and challenges.

*Note:  All names, locations, and other identifying information has been changed/removed

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Welcome to FRCA’s Blog!

By Mark Kling, Executive Director, FRCA

JUNE 19, 2018 – Welcome to the new Family Resource Center Association (FRCA) Blog, a virtual connection to all things Family Support.

FRCA’s vision is a Colorado in which every family is thriving and self-reliant. We believe that Family Support can lead to true change for families and our communities. One lesson learned in over 25 years of Family Resource Center Program service in Colorado is that when you provide families with a primary point of entry for multiple resources, you significantly increase their chances for success in reaching their goals for economic, social, health and financial stability. This is accomplished by partnering with families in goal setting, skill building and providing the resources they need to achieve their goals.

FRCA endeavors to:

  • Ask the hard questions about what is working and what isn’t working in Family Support systems and practice.
  • Work on answers that lead to change in practice and systems.
  • Collect, analyze and report on data helping us to understand how and if families are increasing their self-reliance.
  • Equip our Members both programmatically and organizationally to serve Colorado families with excellence.

I believe that working on the big questions and challenges can bring innovation, collaboration and great opportunities. It is hard work, but the rewards are priceless.

However, we are still a long ways away from realizing our dream of every Colorado family being self-reliant. According to KIDS COUNT Data Report, Colorado’s child population grew faster than all but five other states between 1991 and 2016 and three times faster than the U.S. child population. Right now, children under 18 make up 22 percent of Colorado’s population, with approximately 168,000 of those children living in poverty across the state.

The influx of people moving to Colorado coupled with a rise in housing prices means many are just one emergency away from being able to afford the cost of necessary household expenses, including childcare, transportation, health care, and taxes, among others.

These statistics show how prevalent the need for family strengthening programs is across the state. We hope that this blog will help expand the conversation around family support and strengthening, challenging you and other leaders to propose out-of-the-box solutions to the problems facing the field.

This blog will feature a variety of voices; from asking leaders the big questions that will help move the field forward, to celebrating solutions & collaborations, and highlighting family stories of success; we look forward to showcasing the Family Support. Together we can make a difference!

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