Member Center

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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Moving On. One family’s success!

The Missy writing this story is very different than the Missy that first walked into the Family Resource Center years ago. Today, I am a proud military wife, strong mother to four beautiful children, and a recent college graduate with honors. If you would have told me 15 years ago that this is where my life would have led me, I wouldn’t have believe you, but I’m so glad I was wrong.

At the young age of 15, I became a mother to a beautiful baby boy. During this time in my life, I was making seriously bad choices and ended up becoming addicted to drugs. Everything around me was crumbling because of my addiction, and my son and I ended up in foster care. This experience led me to getting my life back on track and sober. After I regained my footing, I became involved with a man who was violently abusive throughout our relationship. I found myself once again turning to drugs to escape, but I knew that wasn’t the answer or any way to live my life for my child.  I made the decision to go through a rehab program and move back in with my mother.  She was now clean and sober too.

Living back with my mom and having that stable home environment, I was able to continue working with the Family Resource Center. I remember telling my home visitor everything that I had been through over the past few years, and all she said to me was “What can we help with?” It was so nice to not feel judged so I could move past my own past. My home visitor was able to help guide me and she provided resources like helping me find my own safe housing and parenting classes.  She told me I could be successful.  I didn’t believe her then, but I’ve come so far.

The Family Resource Center has been the most consistent support system for the past 15 years of my life. During these years, I’ve participated in Partners In Parenting Education Class, the toy van, play groups, and the safety and health program to name a few. I’ve also had home visits and participated in trainings so I can better understand my children and ways to give them the best of me as their mom.

Without the support of the Family Resource Center, I am not sure where I would be or if I would still have my son.  I had hit rock bottom and they still helped me. Then, I was able to make goals for my family and they helped me reach my goals.

Today my husband and I own our home and have reliable vehicles. This year alone has been a huge year. I turned 30 and it’s humbling to think that I have been a mom for half my life! My husband and I are celebrating 10 years together! The best part is I did something that I never thought that I could be able to do as a teen mother; I graduated college with honors!

I am who I am today because of the support and encouragement of the Family Resource Center program! They have always seen what I could do, even when I couldn’t see it at first myself. Sometimes it’s hard to believe in yourself, but they believed in me.  They have helped me learn about my children’s health and development which has helped me advocate for their needs as well.

I would love to just say thank you to everyone at the Family Resource Center! I don’t know where me and my family would be without them.

By Melissa K.

To find the Family Resource Center nearest you, go to our Member Center page for a complete map.

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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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Learning to Read and Write at Aurora Community Connection

AUGUST 13, 2018–Every so often, we like to post an uplifting story from one of our 29 Member Centers to bring hope and support to family development workers and caregivers in Colorado. This week, we’re in Aurora, a dense suburb east of downtown Denver. In the late 1970s and 80s, Aurora was the fastest growing municipality in the United States and today is the 54th most populous city in the US. The racial makeup of the city is 61.1{5174c02ae8af42f0163c0bde243aeca1ac9f4d91a19005bb7e698c1ed57806ea} White, 15.7{5174c02ae8af42f0163c0bde243aeca1ac9f4d91a19005bb7e698c1ed57806ea} African American, 4.9{5174c02ae8af42f0163c0bde243aeca1ac9f4d91a19005bb7e698c1ed57806ea} Asian and 28.7{5174c02ae8af42f0163c0bde243aeca1ac9f4d91a19005bb7e698c1ed57806ea} Hispanic or Latino. Aurora also houses a sizeable refugee population, with about 30,000 Ethiopians and Eritreans living in the Denver-Aurora area. Because of this large and diverse population, there are a lot of needs within families and communities that the local government does not have the capacity to address. That’s where FRCA Member Aurora Community Connection (ACC) Family Resource Center comes in.

ACC was founded in 2007 in order to address a gap in services for families in north Aurora. ACC is open to all families, but emphasizes support for low-income families who are marginalized by language and culture. A core value that distinguishes ACC from other non-profits is a commitment to strategically leverage community resources through partnerships and engaging the talents of community residents. ACC staff have cultivated a strong degree of trust with local residents, which contributes to a particularly successful approach to community outreach. As a result, groups such as Aurora Public Schools, Aurora Mental Health, Cooking Matters and the City of Aurora turn to ACC to connect program resources to families in Aurora. A recent story of success within these programs center around two girls who were struggling with reading and writing at their age levels.

Illeana*, age five, began in the ACC tutoring program last summer without a firm grasp of letter recognition in either Spanish or English. Quiet and determined, Illeana worked closely with one of the center’s bilingual youth tutors and slowly mastered the letters of the alphabet through repeated and varied practice. She is now ready to start kindergarten at the expected level of learning for children her age.

Beatrice, age ten, began the tutoring program totally apathetic about reading and writing. She was clear about her reluctance to show any enthusiasm for program activities, and was easily distracted and off task. However, slowly and surely, thanks to her repeated pairing with a particularly engaging youth tutor, Beatrice began to take pleasure in the act of reading for its own sake. She realized there is a whole world of books in ACC’s program library she could connect with on a personal level. These connections were the spark that helped Beatrice to move from short picture books to increasingly complex chapter books. Beatrice comes from a difficult family situation, and told center staff that she felt very welcome and comfortable in the program. Towards the end, she even started coming for tutoring every single day!

Thanks to the wonderful family development workers at Aurora Community Connection, these two young girls are now thriving in their education and will feel the positive impacts of the family resource center for years to come. FRCA hopes that you will find inspiration in these positive stories and continue to work hard to change the trajectory for families around Colorado.

To learn more about Aurora Community Connection, visit their website at www.auroracommunityconnection.com.

If you would like to submit your own success story, please contact Erin Osovets at [email protected].

*names have been changed

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Data is Really About People

August 6, 2018–In 1993, a fledging network of family resource centers emerged out of sheer will and passion to serve our communities where needs persisted and services lagged. The formal association, Family Resource Center Association was established a few years later in 1998.  Since then, our network has increasingly used a “data-informed” approach to strengthen services through disciplined practice and decision making.

So here’s the thing.  Data in nonprofits is really about people; about our compulsive drive to reveal the truth about our impact; about how we work with people to implement change.

Data-informed practice is people-informed practice.

Several years ago, our network started asking: How do we define our impact? We employed simple data tools to hone in on how many people our network touched with services, directly or indirectly, and into which Colorado communities we reached. We asked questions such as: How do we expand into underserved areas of the state? How can we serve more people in a deeper way?  We increased our focus on offering a variety of evidenced-based services in more communities.

As we moved further into data-informed territory, the complexity of tools evolved. Since 2009 our network has used a relational database, Efforts to Outcomes (ETO), to collect participant-level data across the state. (Depending on who you ask, “ETO” might as well be a four-letter word. No one said data collection is easy!) Having a common database helps tell the story of communities across the state that need and value our services.

Every new revelation begs new questions, and we continued to implement more rigorous data practices. Now family development workers use a tool created by social science researchers called the Colorado Family Support Assessment 2.0. It takes into account 14 factors, including: employment and income, housing and food security, physical and mental health, and more. Is it perfect?  Of course not.  Will it look different five years from now? Maybe. (Gasp!) Does it encourage us to look at what we are doing well, and what we could do better?  Absolutely.

Once we had a tool to measure “self-reliance,” the conversation shifted. How would we ensure our work with families helps them achieve progress in areas that are important to them? Family development workers now earn a certification in a technique pioneered by counselors called “Motivational Interviewing.” It turns out that helping people make change in their life requires a similar approach whether it involves giving up smoking or deciding to develop and adhere to a personal budget.

We’ve been offering this approach long enough that we have data to demonstrate that our family development model works. We know that people across the state come to our centers with a vulnerability in one or more of the 14 areas we assess.  They also come with strengths and dreams.

Our data, as analyzed by social science researchers that we call “evaluators,” shows that people improve to a more stable place thanks to our strengths-based approach. Hence, here at Mountain Resource Center in Conifer, Colorado, which is also a Mile High United Way Center for Family Opportunity site, we can say that “an external evaluator found that family development participants experienced statistically significant growth in economic self-sufficiency domains.”

We owe it to ourselves, our families, and our supporters to understand the reach and depth of our services. For this, data-informed practice has been, and will continue to be, transformative.  At the same time, data-informed practice places additional requirements on our staff whose case loads are full. It challenges our leaders to develop methods for analyzing data even though agencies are stretched thin. We appreciate that our supporters understand the demands of this high-quality, intensive, people-focused approach.

And remember: data isn’t just about numbers. Anecdotes are another type of data we collect. As one of our families recently told us: For most of us, this is enough to keep us striving, out of sheer will and passion, to better understand and meet our community’s needs.

For more information about Mountain Resource Center or the Family Resource Center closest to you, visit our Centers Page.

By Tracy Atlas (Mountain Resource Center)

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