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

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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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Strength of the Network

“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.

Want to learn more about our impact?  Check our latest Impact Report HERE or email Marie Mahan at [email protected].

By Amanda Weber & FRCA Staff

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Challenges of Data



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

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FRCA Partners with Hemera and Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child “Frontiers of Innovation” Portfolio

FRCA has partnered with the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University’s “Frontiers of Innovation” (FOI) program, and is conducting research on how to grow and sustain a model Family Development program, with a long-term goal of determining how to best serve families on the path to self-reliance by uncovering how families’ needs, community services, and evaluation all align. FRCA is the only statewide Association in the nation working with Harvard’s researchers on how to grow and sustain a model Family Development program, with a long-term goal of improving the lives of children and families.

Frontiers of Innovation is the research and development platform at The Center on Developing Child at Harvard and aims to accelerate the development and adoption of science-based innovations that directly address community-identified unmet challenges of children and families in order to achieve breakthrough impact at scale. Launched in 2011, FOI employs a structured but flexible model that facilitates idea generation, development, implementation, testing and rapid-cycle iteration. This process is grounded in science and supported within a growing community of change agents who are committed to shared learning, cumulative knowledge, and transformative child outcomes at the population level.

“180,000 kids in Colorado are growing up at or below the federal poverty line,” said FRCA Executive Director Mark Kling. “FRCA is honored to work with the experts at Harvard on studying what engages families to utilize support services and how we can create lasting change in our communities by helping at-risk families become self-sufficient. The data we collect through the study will provide us with research on how to make the most impact for the most people.”

The first phase of this partnership focused on reviewing and understanding our data to learn more about what is working and why, as well as what is not working and why not. 13 FRCA Members participated in an orientation meeting that reviewed preliminary findings and invited them to submit applications to be a Cohort Site in the research study.

The second phase is focusing on developing, adopting and testing new, scalable strategies that can achieve significantly better outcomes for young children and families facing adversity, using three primary FOI components: (1) a continuous, bi-directional pipeline of scientific discoveries and hypotheses that will be translated for application in policy and practice: (2) intervention strategies that are designed, tested and refined through the IDEAS framework); and (3) engaging our learning community in shared learning, promoting early adoption of promising strategies, and testing pathways to impact at scale.

The FRCA FOI Rapid-Cycle Learning Cohort (#1) was established through a fair and extensive process in the Spring of 2017 and included three family resource centers across Colorado: Community Partnership Family Resource in Teller, Park, and El Paso counties; La Plata Family Centers Coalition (LPFCC) in rural La Plata and Archuleta counties, and The Pinon Project Family Resource Center in Montezuma and Dolores County. This cohort came to consensus on and then tested a standardized process for recruitment and motivational interviewing-informed goal setting for families newly enrolled in the Family Development Pathway. The cohort also tested the feasibility of adding some of FOI’s recommended measures to deepen our understanding of the Family Development Pathway. In January 2018, Mark Kling and FRCA Program Director, Teri Haymond, introduced FRCA’s Cohort 1 data collection and evaluation process at the Frontiers of Innovation Convening in Boston and discussed the hallmarks of supporting a statewide network of Family Resource Centers.

Lessons learned from FRCA’s FOI Cohort #1 included:

  • Perceptions that help is not needed, time commitment to engage in services, and lack of correct service matching to family needs were common reasons identified for why families opt out of deeper engagement in service delivery
  • A quarter of those families that opted into the study dropped out prior to completing, common reasons cited included moving out of the service area and not needing the help;
  • Motivational Interviewing strategies, a core component of FRCA’s model of family development service delivery, facilitated the development of trusted relationships with families; and
  • Family progress in self-sufficiency appeared unrelated to parent/caregivers’ level of executive functioning and past adverse childhood experiences, suggesting that services similarly help those with high and low levels of executive functioning and those who have and have not experienced multiple traumas during childhood.

The second cohort of sites, Delta Family Center (Delta) in rural western Colorado serving Delta County and Focus Points Family Resource Center, in metro Denver, will begin recruitment and initial data collection in September 2018. This cohort will test the impact of training additional staff in motivational interviewing (MI) in order to test the impact on family goal achievement of MI being deployed by a broader group of staff. The final conclusions of second cohort are expected in early 2019.

Families are at the center of this work, as articulated in this quote by Teri Haymond: “Families know their situation best and it’s our responsibility to make sure FRCs are equipped to respond to the needs of the people who walk through their doors. One of the most rewarding parts of our partnership with FOI is knowing that our research will help advance the field of family development and help resource centers build relationships with families that will keep them engaged and working toward their goals.”

FRCA has recognized that a broader Colorado FOI Learning Community will be beneficial to supporting this project’s overall goal. To that end, quarterly meetings of both the first and second cohort members will provide a chance to offer input into the project’s design, testing, and reflection phases as well as championing the project outcomes to broader membership.

“Working with Harvard and FOI has pushed FRCA to hold ourselves to the highest standard and ask hard questions about whether or not our work is impactful enough,” said Mark Kling. “This level of research encourages honesty, collaboration and taking risks to achieve great things for families in Colorado and beyond.”

By Teri Haymond, Program Director at Family Resource Center Association

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Donate your woolens this winter

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A single person can change million lives

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