The Family Resource Center Association stands in solidarity with our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities to promote Equity and end the systemic, institutional racism present in our society. While we have much to learn on these issues, it is clear that our Mission is impacted by systemic racism. To be silent about these injustices is to be complicit. We must and will learn to better incorporate Equity throughout our work and be a source and advocate of systemic change.
Our staff and board are committed to building and supporting thriving, safe, and equitable communities for all people in Colorado. We are committed to learning more about infusing Equity throughout our work with you, our supporters and the wider community as our partners. As a key network in Colorado’s nonprofit sector, we feel it is our duty to advocate for racial justice and systemic change as we do this work.
Together, we can create better and more equitable communities. We will continue to share our journey with you as we learn more about building Equity into our work.
“A community is stronger than divided individuals ever could be.” –Seth Godin
Recently, a blogpost by Seth Godin caught our eyes here at FRCA. Seth Godin is an author and former business executive who works to inspire his readers to “level up” and interact in the world while making a difference. One of his most recent posts, “The magnetic generosity of the network effect” focused on the importance of community and The Network Effect. We must focus on sharing our ideas, purposes and work to create a larger and stronger impact. According to Godin, most of the time we adopt the scarcity model of pizza. This says that if we hardly have any pizza left, and share it, then we won’t have any remaining. We must remember that this is not the case with sharing work and ideas. If we share ideas, they will spread and grow, creating an even more powerful idea. This is the Network Effect.
At Family Resource Center Association, we work to create a collaborative community that is just as invested in our vision as we are. Our vision is a Colorado where every family is thriving and self-reliant, and we would not be able to take steps towards this vision if it wasn’t for the Network Effect. We recognize that a community is stronger than an individual, and we want to share our ideas in order to change the lives of many and make an impact.
Data collection and utilization can be a challenge for any organization. FRCA and our Members Centers are no different. We currently have 30 members in our network and every single one has unique needs when it comes to utilizing their data to the fullest. Each Member Center has differing strategic priorities to leverage and message their data to learn about and serve families. This is in part due to the unique needs of families in each community. Layered on the community needs, are reporting requirements in each of the funding sources our Member Centers receive. All of this variability can make managing our data collection, analysis and evaluation a difficult thing to do. Our systems have to be flexible enough to allow for Member Centers to collect and utilize what is unique about their own communities. In the same way, our data has to be structured enough that we have commonality in identifying not just what services families are accessing, but concretely identifying family progress as families grow alongside our Members themselves.
While we ask our Member Centers to use one database for our entire network, we know that many of our Member Centers are using three, four, or more individual databases to record different data due to funding requirements. Funders have, with genuinely helpful intentions, provided access to services/tools/databases to capture their specific data so that the data is collected consistently across grantees. It has probably been one of the only sustainable ways to collect that information neatly and consistently at scale. However, I have seen the fatigue for Member Center staff when they have to enter the same records in three places. I know enough to see it is not sustainable for the long term. Most Member Center staff work directly with families because they want to work with families, not because they want to enter data in six places afterwards. I’ve seen the same fatigue when data managers are faced with joining four or five data sources to get to what should and could be a simple answer.
While this is a significant challenge we face, there is cause for optimism. At FRCA we are taking on the challenge of data integration from our major collaborating partners to help alleviate that burden of duplicative data entry. We’re investing in and exploring integration projects that could potentially replicate at our Member Centers or even scale to cover the entire network and State. Most encouraging of all, we have the community of data nerds and the culture to make radical solutions work. Our network taps into the skills of economists, teachers, data managers, developers, scientists, and data-lovers who are so much more than a job title can convey. We have a mutual view, that understanding our data means understanding the people we serve and that makes for more effective decision-making. A network this wide and passionate about families, will always find a way to make it work. This includes the challenges of collecting and understanding information to best serve our Colorado communities, Member Centers and families. As we continue to improve our technical supports to Members, there’s plenty of room to grow. I am excited to be a part of this growth and innovation as we wrestle with the challenges of data collection, analysis and evaluation. This journey will take us all places we never expected or dreamed, as individuals, organizations, or as a network.
By Stuart Sims, Data Manager at Family Resource Center Association
Strengthening families is at the core of what we do and we accomplish that by strengthening our own skills and that of our Members. FRCA is proud to offer three different trainings to our Members and community partners to help family development workers build skills to work with families in a strengths-based and goal-oriented way. The trainings provide:
A holistic view of how a Family Resource Center operates.
Techniques on how to engage families and motivate change.
Comprehensive tools on how to track family progress and goals.
FRCA trains professionals across Colorado. Each training has a diverse representation from different agencies, allowing for fruitful discussion and peer learning, as well as a streamlined approach to working with families all over the state. If a family moves from one Family Resource Center to another, we know that they will get the same treatment and attention.
Standards of Quality for Family Strengthening and Support
FRCA adopted The Standards of Quality for Family Strengthening & Support in 2013. They are the first and only standards in the country to integrate and operationalize the Principles of Family Support Practice with the Strengthening Families Protective Factor Frameworks and its research-based evidence-informed Five Protective Factors. The vision is that their implementation will help ensure that families are supported and strengthened through quality practice. FRCA is the only organization in Colorado trained and authorized to conduct this training.
The Standards are designed to be used by all stakeholders–public departments, foundations, community-based organizations, and parents–across different kinds of Family Strengthening and Family Support programs as a tool for planning, providing, and assessing quality practice. The Standards create common language and expectations in the Family Support and Strengthening field across different kinds of programs, such as Family Resource Centers, home visiting programs, and child development programs.
Motivational Interviewing is a counseling technique used to help people identify their need for change and their readiness to make the change. This is a client-centered, self-directed approach and a great skill to have when working with families who are seeking support from an agency.
This training helps workers and supervisors identify where individuals fall in the Stages of Change, recognize change talk, and develop skills in using open-ended questions, affirmations, reflective listening, and summarizing.
Colorado Family Support Assessment 2.0
Colorado Family Support Assessment 2.0 (CFSA 2.0) is the primary assessment tool used by the Family Resource Center Association’s network of family resource centers to assess family strengths and needs, and monitor progress towards family self-reliance and increased conditions that protect children against mistreatment. Non-FRCA agencies around the state and country have started to implement this tool into their assessments of families as well.
The CFSA 2.0 is comprised of three sections: Part A assesses 14 self-reliance and family stability domains including income, housing, transportation, food security, health coverage, etc. Part B assess the five factors that protect against child abuse and neglect. Part C identifies areas where families would like to make a change and how ready they are to make the change.
The most effective way to complete the CFSA 2.0 is by building rapport and trust with the families. In order to do so, FRCA believes developing Motivational Interviewing skills is the best way to engage families and assist them in identifying areas of which they would like to change.
Our goal is to have as many people in the family support field equipped with the training and resources to serve families in the best way possible. We are passionate about strengthening families to make true and lasting change in their lives. By equipping those who work with families each day, we are creating a culture of continuous quality and improvement for families.
JULY 3, 2018 – As we celebrate Independence Day, it reminds me that none of us do life alone. We live in communities and we work in community. Every day, each one of us collaborates with others in some way. The definition of Collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce or create something.
FRCA staff supporting Pinwheels for Prevention, a program from Illuminate Colorado
Collaboration is at the heart of everything FRCA does. From the work with families; as family development workers partner with individuals to set and meet goals; to technical assistance and training with our centers to raise the quality of work accomplished in communities; to helping to facilitate conversations with diverse stakeholders around the state in addressing solutions for our communities; we are constantly working on collaboration. We also work with policymakers to help inform policies and raise awareness for funding these important initiatives in our state. And we are continually working with our partners in the philanthropic community and donors to make sure this important work is sustainable. FRCA is focused on collaborating to make a difference in all that we do. And collaboration over time leads to Collective Impact.
Collective Impact is another buzzword in our work that references a simple concept that is very difficult to execute. Collective Impact is a framework to tackle deeply entrenched and complex social problems. It is an innovative and structured approach to making collaboration work across government, business, philanthropy, non-profit organizations and citizens to achieve significant and lasting social change. (www.collaborationforimpact.com/collective-impact)
Right now we have begun a partnership with Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, Frontiers of Innovation (FOI) to test, refine and test again our tools, practices, and resources to improve family support. Currently, we are in the second phase of work. The aim of this second pilot is twofold: first, to learn more about the way in which families at three different family resource centers do or do not enter in the Family Development Pathway, and; secondly, to garner some evidence about the efficacy of Motivational Interviewing training for those staff engaging with families. Specifically, the FDP refers to a cluster of services including use of a common screening tool, motivational interviewing-based coordinated case management, and administration of the Colorado Family Support Assessment 2.0. FRCA believes that through use of these strategies, caregivers involved in the Family Development Pathway will experience increased readiness to change, and increased self-confidence, altogether leading to positive movement within goal setting domains and improved self-reliance.
At the end of the day, when families find their strength, confidence and work towards positive movement, lives are changed for generations to come.
And there you have it. Our vision, our ultimate goal, is to be a catalyst for lasting change in the lives of families. We believe that if we can create solutions that lay the foundation for healthy and self-reliant children and families, we can affect a long-term difference in our communities and our state. And as always, we will tackle each challenge that comes our way, collaborating with our members, stakeholders, funders, and communities.
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!