Putting Families First: Success Stories from BGCA's Family Plus Strategy
Our nation’s families, particularly those served by Boys & Girls Clubs, face extraordinaryeconomic and social challenges. Family PLUS – an innovative family strengthening strategy inpartnership with Kimberly‐Clark Corporation – extends the impact of BGCA’s life‐enhancingprograms beyond the walls of the Club to strengthen the very foundation of the family.
Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Important Guidelines for Photocopying Limited permission is granted free of charge to photocopy all pages of this guide that are required for use by Boys & Girls Club staff members. Only the original manual purchaser/owner may make such photocopies. Under no circumstances is it permissible to sell or distribute on a commercial basis multiple copies of material reproduced from this publication. Copyright 2010 Boys & Girls Clubs of America All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Except as expressly provided above, no part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the publisher. Boys & Girls Clubs of America 1275 Peachtree St. NE Atlanta, GA 30309‐3506 404‐487‐5700 www.bgca.org Putting Families First: Success Stories from BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Table of Contents Foreword 1 Acknowledgments 2 Five Years of Family PLUS 3 Our Program’s Proven Success 5 Inspiring Programs 7 Inspiring Parents 12 Inspiring Clubs 19 Foreword Our nation’s families, particularly those served by Boys & Girls Clubs, face extraordinary economic and social challenges. Family PLUS – an innovative family strengthening strategy in partnership with Kimberly‐Clark Corporation – extends the impact of BGCA’s life‐enhancing programs beyond the walls of the Club to strengthen the very foundation of the family. The adults charged with rearing members of Boys & Girls Clubs – be they mothers, fathers, grandparents or caregivers – can now take classes and access services within the Clubs that serve their youth. Families also find unprecedented opportunities to strengthen familial bonds by spending time together in the Club. The chief professional officer of one school‐based Club describes how, each day after school, parents and caregivers can be found interacting with children in the gym, computer lab and community garden. Another Club’s inclusive family activities allow a single mother who cares for her disabled, adult brother to have fun with her son – and this improved relationship seems to have helped the son do better in school. Clubs have submitted so many inspiring stories that we feel we simply must share them. Within the pages of this book you will read about fathers who have managed, even in the face of custody disputes, to stay involved with their children; a displaced single mother who found her family a home; and caregivers helped by Clubs who were able to secure emergency financial assistance, medical care, counseling and even jobs, so that they might better provide for their families. These successes would not have been possible without Family PLUS, which is now offered by more than 2,000 Clubs to some 2 million young people and their families. For that, we are profoundly grateful to our partner, Kimberly‐Clark Corporation, in supporting our endeavor to strengthen families. Sincerely, President and CEO Boys & Girls Clubs of America Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 1 of 33 Acknowledgments Boys & Girls Clubs of America gratefully acknowledges the Kimberly‐Clark Corporation for its generous support of Family PLUS. This support has allowed BGCA an opportunity to provide Boys & Girls Clubs worldwide with funding and/or technical support to enhance or initiate family inclusion programming, events and activities. We are especially thankful to Tom Falk, President/CEO, Kimberly‐Clark and Jenny L. Lewis, Vice President, Kimberly‐Clark Foundation, for their vision, passion and commitment to strengthen our nation’s families and communities. We extend a special thank you to the families and staff members who so willingly shared their success stories and exceptional work to make this book possible. Special recognition is given to the following BGCA staff for their hard work, advocacy and commitment in supporting families as an integral part of the youth development experience within Boys & Girls Clubs: o Roxanne Spillett, President, Boys & Girls Clubs of America o Judith J. Pickens, M.Ed., Senior Vice President, Program & Youth Development Services o Christina Alford, Vice President, Resource Development/Southwest o Romero Brown, Vice President, Program & Youth Development Services o Sharon Hemphill, Senior Director, Health and Life Skills o Jose Cruz, Director, Family Strengthening o Julie Davis, Account Relationship Director o Lauren Hoffman, Director, Editorial Projects o Gerald Fanion, Assistant Director, Public Relations o Marella Bivins, Program Assistant, Program & Youth Development Services BGCA also thanks Michelle McQuiston for her contributions to the research, writing and editing of this guide. Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 2 of 33 Five Years of Family PLUS Five years ago, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and the Kimberly‐Clark Corporation developed a national strategy – Family PLUS (Parents Leading, Uniting, Serving) – to expand and redefine family strengthening throughout the Boys & Girls Club Movement in five areas: Kinship Care; Father Involvement; Economic Opportunity; Family Advocacy Network (FAN) Club, and Outreach/Recruitment/Retention. Working from the premise that children do well when families do well, and families do better when they live in supportive communities, BGCA helped build the capacity of Clubs to effectively deliver programs and services that ensured families in need have the opportunities, networks and assistance to realize their aspirations for their children. Throughout the years, the Family PLUS strategy has provided funding to 354 Clubs for their family strengthening efforts. Also, the tools, resources and strategies to start or expand such programs and services are available to all Boys & Girls Clubs. The creation of Parent Advisory Committees helps design programs and services uniquely suited to the needs of each Club’s membership. Today, Clubs are providing classes in parenting with opportunities for fathers and non‐custodial parents to increase their involvement in the lives of their children. There are also course offerings in academic enrichment and employment strategies. Clubs are also networking with community agencies to provide emergency financial assistance to families that need help paying bills, buying groceries or finding affordable housing. Family PLUS has become a vital component of BGCA’s five‐year strategic plan, IMPACT 2012. As BGCA is working to achieve positive outcomes for youth and teens in three key impact areas – academic success, good character and citizenship and healthy lifestyles – family strengthening programming provides further means for Clubs to work with parents and caregivers to ensure that young people reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The Family PLUS strategy has substantially changed the way Clubs think about including families in Club programming. Family strengthening components are now an integral part of other national programs developed by BGCA. As a result, the number of Clubs reporting that they offer family strengthening programming has ballooned, from 348 Clubs in 2006 to 1,537 in 2009. Not only that, but Clubs have received more than $2 million in funding and some 640,000 Club members and their families have participated in family strengthening opportunities – spawning countless stories of success. Over the years, Clubs’ family strengthening efforts have revealed some enduring lessons about the ways to best serve Club youth. But the stories in this book illustrate the most important element of the Family PLUS legacy – stronger kids, stronger families and stronger communities. Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 3 of 33 Types of Family Support and Engagement Types Family Social Events Academic Support for Children Outreach, Information and Communication Adult Education Courses Family Strengthening Examples o Holiday dinners, sometimes with family portraits (Thanksgiving dinner, Haunted Halloween House, Posada celebration) o Game nights (Bingo, Spades, Movies, Trivia) o Talent shows (graduation celebrations, award ceremonies, appreciation dinners) o Sports events (basketball clinics, football and cheerleading banquets, pool parties, sports tournaments and fundraisers) o Outings (bowling, amusement parks, malls, neighborhood clean‐ ups, baseball games) o Other Family Fun Nights (arts and crafts night, fashion shows, father and son activities, chaperoned dances) o “Feed and Read” events o College scholarships o College financing/preparation parent workshops o Homework help and tutoring o Working with teachers and schools o Parent‐involvement; in‐school workshops o Club orientations and walking tours o Event flyers, bulletin boards and calendars o Suggestion boxes, advisory groups and focus groups o “Personal asks” by staff for event attendance and volunteering o Parent‐staff communication regarding child o Children as messengers to champion events with parents o Education and employment: ESL, citizenship, GED, computers, resume writing o Personal health (nutrition, stress management, exercise) o Parenting (parent‐child communication, discipline, college preparation, parent mentors) o Health and dental screenings, services, supplies (e.g., eyeglasses) o Counseling services, referrals, space for noncustodial parents to meet with their children o Social support for couples/families (Parents’ Night Out, marriage counseling) o Giveaways (food pantry, Christmas gifts, turkeys for Thanksgiving, clothes and supplies, car seats, bikes and backpacks) o Other economic support (scholarships, job training, credit counseling, utility bill assistance, finance classes and Club employment) Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 4 of 33 Proof of Our Program’s Success An external evaluation of the Family PLUS suggests many benefits for children, parents and families. Parents, youth and Club leaders all reported a positive influence from Family PLUS on the quality and quantity of time that children and their parents spent together, as well as on other family, child and Club outcomes, such as increased parental knowledge about one's children, their talents and their friendship networks and improved parent‐child communication and parenting skills. Parent‐staff relationships, Club visibility and child behavior management also improved. The evaluation of Clubs who received funding to implement Family PLUS was conducted through surveys with Club leaders, staff and parents; focus groups with Club leaders, parents and youth; and site visits with a stratified sample of Clubs receiving grants. The evaluation had four major aims: 1) to assess the influence of Family PLUS on the delivery and receipt of family support activities at Clubs; 2) to assess the influence of Family PLUS on family togetherness and other positive outcomes for children, families and Clubs; 3) to assess the usefulness and influence of BGCA training, technical assistance and materials on Family PLUS programming and its antecedents; and 4) to identify primary approaches through which Family PLUS has been implemented at Clubs. 1) Evaluation findings show that Family PLUS increased both the quantity and quality of family‐ strengthening activities offered, as well the number of parents served by family strengthening activities. o The quantity of family support activities from the first to fourth quarter of the grant increased significantly. o The prevalence of activities across Family PLUS areas was significantly higher during the grant compared to before the grant, and was sustained well beyond the grant period. o The quality of family support activities also improved significantly from the first to fourth quarter of the grant. Most chief professional officers (CPOs) report good or excellent quality well beyond the grant period. o A breadth of family support activities surfaced in qualitative data, falling into a clear typology of family social events, academic support for children, outreach and communication, adult and parent education, and family support services. o Participation of new parents was reported across all program areas, ethnic/racial categories, genders, and first and fourth grant quarters, with outreach activities engaging the most new parents. CPOs also report higher overall levels of parent Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 5 of 33 participation across program areas during rather than before the grant period, with levels sustained after the grant for most areas. 2) The evaluation suggests that Family PLUS positively influences family togetherness, as measured by the quantity and quality of time children and parents spend with one another inside and outside of the Clubs. o The quantity and quality of parent‐child time increased over the course of the grant, and the majority of CPOs attribute family support programming as increasing this amount. o The quality of parent involvement in their children’s development also increased over the course of the grant. o Parents and CPOs also reported that family support programming led to positive change for families. o The quality of parent‐child communication and relationships was also positively influenced by Family PLUS. 3) Findings reveal that BGCA’s materials and resources are highly valued by CPOs; a focus on family nutrition and mealtime is appreciated by parents; and on‐site training is effective in increasing CPO and staff knowledge about family support and how to implement it. 4) The evaluation also revealed a set of broad approaches for implementing family support programming: identifying and responding to challenges specific to particular communities and families, building partnerships, inviting parent volunteerism, relying on leadership and staffing, and promoting civic engagement. These innovative and proven strategies bring parents, caregivers and family members into the Club, and bringing families into the Club helps parents and caregivers take the lessons and objectives of Boys & Girls Clubs beyond the walls of the Club. Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 6 of 33 Inspiring Programs Reaching Beyond Club Walls Reaching beyond Club walls is about serving whole families and involving entire communities. Incorporating Family PLUS funding and resources, Clubs across the country and on military installations around the world have created and implemented innovative new strategies for serving youth and their families. What has also grown during the five‐year period spanned by the Family PLUS partnership are the countless stories of successes – great and small. “The Family PLUS initiative has made a great difference to the family members who’ve become involved,” writes Robie Aguila, executive director, Variety Boys & Girls Club, Pueblo Del Sol unit, Los Angeles, Calif. “Mothers, in particular, have told us how much the Family PLUS activities mean to them, especially the sessions on communication. They tell us how the sessions have increased the levels of understanding between themselves and their children, and within the families as a whole.” Through stories like these and the one below, it is possible to catch small glimpses of the big changes that have been happening for families in Boys & Girls Clubs: The holidays always provide opportunities to reach out to the community. We hosted a Family Thanksgiving Dinner, and it turned out to be one of our most successful events of the year. We had the children make and personalize invitations, which encouraged parents and caregivers to attend. We also included the event on our calendar, giving families plenty of time to plan and spread the word. It was an amazing night and a great opportunity to discuss the programs we host at the Club. A child’s mother whom we’d never met before showed up that day, hours before the event, asking to volunteer. We were so excited to finally meet her and to see her willingness to help. She shot pool with the kids, and then, at dinnertime, she put on her apron and hair net and helped serve. This event got her involved in the Club, and now we see much more of her. That night, we also got to meet fathers that we had never seen before. Many of our children come from single‐mother homes or have grandparents as caretakers, but, to our surprise, we saw many fathers this night. Often we assume that families are run only by the mothers because the fathers do not often come to the Club. But they came out for this, and it was wonderful. We fed almost 200 people that night. We even ran out of chairs! We saw parents who have been involved before, alongside some new faces. We saw fathers with their families. We saw grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings. ‐ Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Club, Chicago, Ill. Bridging Families Through Family PLUS programming, Clubs are often able to get parents and caregivers in even the most difficult of family circumstances involved in the lives of their children. In McAllen, Texas, for example, Boys & Girls Club professionals provide a six‐week co‐parenting education program for parents who are divorced or separated, to learn how to continue working together with and for their children. There is also a six‐week program for young parents, ages 16 to 24, which helps them understand their own needs and how to balance all of the responsibilities of Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 7 of 33 being a new parent. Then there is “Parenting Time,” a neutral exchange and visitation program in which the Club becomes a fun, safe place for children to interact with their non‐custodial parent without confrontation between the two parents. Services such as the ones offered in McAllen and at other Boys & Girls Clubs can make the difference in whether a parent is able to stay involved in the life of their child. Consider the following story from Clubs serving difficult‐to‐reach parents and caregivers: We held a Family PLUS Take & Bake Pizza Night from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m., making it easy for parents to participate right at pick‐up time. Even parents who forgot about the event could still join in, because the Club provided all the ingredients. Each family made a pizza at the Club, and, once their creations were complete, we supplied them with juice, water, decks of cards and a list of family‐oriented card games. The point of the event was to allow the families to have dinner on us and, while their pizzas were baking, to spend some time interacting as a family. We had 23 parents, grandparents, foster parents, aunts, sisters and caregivers attend, with 46 youth and teens participating with their families. Several attendees inquired about helping at our upcoming fundraisers and gave us ideas for future family events. We often do not see the parents of our teen members, as these parents do not need to come to the Club to pick up their children. A few of our teens really wanted to participate in the Take & Bake Pizza Night, so they repeatedly called their parents and asked them to come to the Club. One teen boy called his mother, reiterating, “Okay, so you’ll be in here in five minutes, right?” His mother came, and this was the first time she had actually set foot in the Club in the two years her sons have been members. The boys were so excited to be there sharing their Club with her. ‐ Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County, Sedro‐Woolley Extension, Sedro‐Woolley, Wash. An important component of the Family PLUS strategy are the special efforts Clubs make to serve foster parents, grandparents and other kinship caregivers, who represent a growing percentage of the American adults raising young people. Here is an example from a Club: Six years ago, my sister left her two sons with our mother, so I personally have seen the struggles faced by grandparents and other family members raising children, as well as the struggles of the youth themselves. In Box Elder County, this problem continues to grow. Our biggest success has been the Club’s family parties, where caregivers get a night off from making dinner, are able to spend time with their kids, and are shown that they are not alone, that the Club has help to offer. The family parties have shown us how much stress caregivers are under through the fact that simple craft activities and board games can bring them so much enjoyment. Families do want to spend time together, but even those in traditional two‐parent households can feel overwhelmed and easily forget the importance of family time. At our first family party in January, an attendee, Mrs. Cooke, shared a story with me. After leaving an abusive husband, she had raised six children on her own in California, with help from the local Boys & Girls Club. After her children had grown, Mrs. Cooke remarried and moved to Utah with her new husband. A year ago, their grandson Cody came to live with them. Mrs. Cooke was thrilled to learn that there was a Boys & Girls Club in Brigham City, because she knew the Club would help her and her husband with Cody, just as the California Club had helped her with her own children. ‐ Boys & Girls Clubs of Brigham City, Utah Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 8 of 33 While the parents and caregivers of Club members receive resources and opportunities to strengthen their families, these adult family members, in turn, help make stronger Clubs and programs, as described here: Keystone Club members worked with Club staff and FAN Club parents to establish a Community Closet that provides apparel to families in need. Since its inception, 125 parents, caregivers and Club members have accessed the Community Closet for needs ranging from job interview attire to homecoming dresses to everyday wear. FAN Club parents and Club members have made personal donations to the Community Closet. Then, during National Family Week, the Club launched a month‐long service project to collect more shoes, clothing, winter coats, food and funds for local families in need. FAN Club members organized bake sales and made appeals for donations to Club staff and families. As a result, our Community Closet has been replenished, several local homeless shelters have received items they desperately need during the winter months, more than 30 Club members have received new winter jackets, and the FAN Club raised approximately $200 to purchase Christmas presents and a holiday meal for a family in need. Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay, Thomas H. Lutsey Boys & Girls Club, Green Bay, Wis. Small Successes Have Big Meaning The successes we see with the children in the Club’s Community Resource Center for people with autism can sometimes seem insignificant to outside spectators, but they are very important to us. During this past session, a mother approached me and told me that she had just witnessed her son—for the first time in his life— carry on a conversation in which he asked a question about something another boy was interested in. This success could seem like an everyday occurrence, but the mother was so excited by this experience, she was almost brought to tears. This likely would not have occurred outside the nurturing environment that this program creates. It provides children suffering from a wide range of disabilities with a place where they do not have to fear bullying, peer pressure or that they will be made fun of. ‐ Ludlow Boys Club & Girls Club Corporation, Ludlow Boys Club & Girls Club, Inc., Ludlow, Mass. Building Economic Opportunity Providing economic opportunity is one of the major goals of Family PLUS programming in Boys & Girls Clubs. Sometimes that means helping adult family members find jobs, educational opportunities or financial counseling. Other times it simply means helping parents and caregivers ensure that they can meet the basic needs of their families — such as helping families obtain assistance with paying rent and utility bills. Families in Garden Grove, Calif., for example, can look to their Boys & Girls Club for help enrolling in medical insurance, for vision and dental screenings, mental health services for children and families, English language classes, Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 9 of 33 parenting classes, tax preparation, family activities in the Club and even opportunities to dine and discuss community issues with local politicians. In the Family Literacy program, parents and children learn English together, and parents receive lessons about such vital life skills as opening a bank account, helping their children with homework and job interview strategies. Other Clubs have stories like this one to tell: Three years ago, a Club family was struck with the sudden loss of the children’s father, who was the primary provider for the family. The boys had been attending the Club, but stopped while the family adjusted to the father’s death. The mother struggled, but continued to care for the children, and they came back to the Club. She started working, and things appeared to be going well for the family. The mother was shocked, however, this past spring, when she lost her job and was unable to pay her bills. The whole family was once again thrown into survival mode. Fortunately, this mother spoke to a Club professional, who advised her of openings in the Club. She was hired and remains a member of our staff. In the fall, the mother was having difficulties with her children’s state‐funded health insurance, so she decided to utilize our Family Support program. During her intake, we were able to not only help her with her insurance, but also signed her children up for free vision screening and eye care. It was also determined that she and the children were suffering from depression. We made appointments for all family members to see a therapist to help deal with the traumatic loss of the father. As a result, the boys’ school work and social lives have dramatically changed. One of the children has since been referred to the public schools’ Gifted and Talented program, and episodes of acting out have been reduced. The boys still attend the Club, and the mother still works for our organization. She was surprised by the services and resources our Family Support program offers, and has referred other families to our program. This past Christmas, the mother was able to purchase new bikes for the boys – a first! –and shared this exciting news with us. We have signed the children up for our Bike Helmet Distribution Program where they are to be outfitted with helmets and given a demonstration on safety. We are so proud of this family and the strength they have exhibited throughout this process. Their willingness to reach out for help, and our staff’s perceptive eyes and ears have made a positive impact on this family’s future. ‐ Boys & Girls Clubs of Garden Grove, Calif. Feeding Bodies, Minds and Souls At Boys & Girls Clubs, food and nutrition programming are part of the efforts to not only make sure Club members’ and their families’ basic needs are met, they are tools for creating stronger, healthier families and for combating the rising trend in childhood obesity. Clubs serve healthy family meals and send members home with healthy provisions, while promoting good nutrition outside the Club walls with Club gardens and produce markets. Clubs also offer healthy eating workshops for young people and adults, and cooking classes families can take together. Consider some of these Club success stories: Our biggest success this quarter was our Thanksgiving Turkey giveaway. Through a partnership with Stop & Shop, our Club was able to distribute a turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberries to more than 250 families in our Club. This event was a great way for us to show our families that we care and to demonstrate our commitment to serving them through these tough economic times. Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 10 of 33 We also started a partnership with Kids First and our local Stop & Shop to offer healthy cooking classes to seven families over the course of eight weeks. Each week, families learned how to cook typical family meals, but substituted healthier ingredients for those that were high in saturated fats. They also took a field trip to a local grocery store to learn about the types of groceries families should stock on a regular basis. ‐ Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket, Alfred Elson, Jr. Branch, Pawtucket, R.I. A Mother’s Words Tell the Value of Home Boys & Girls Club of Bluffton has helped homeless families in our community get back on their feet. We were very happy to welcome one such family into our Club, as a result of our partnership with Family Promise, Beaufort County’s homeless shelter. We provided scholarship memberships to the two children, and the family, headed by a single mother, was able to find a new home. The mother told us, in her own words, what these services meant to her family: “My name is Brandi. My children, Michael and Josh, are members of the Boys & Girls Club in Bluffton, S.C. I am so very grateful for the opportunity to be part of the ‘family’ of the Club. I would never have had the privilege of being a single, functional and working mother of two boys without the help and promise that this organization has fulfilled. That promise includes: friendship, educational activities, fun and an exceptional staff that I trust. As a parent, it is so very important to feel comfortable while you are working and away from your children. At the Club, it’s not about babysitting – it’s about real friendships. And you cannot put a price tag on what the Boys & Girls Club offers. The scholarships that have been made available to my children have been a gift. Without this gift, I wouldn’t be able to work, and we wouldn’t be able to live on our own.” ‐ Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry, Boys & Girls Club of Bluffton, S.C. Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 11 of 33 Inspiring Parents Bringing parents and caregivers into the Clubhouse so that members might benefit from their involvement is one of the greatest endeavors of the Family PLUS strategy, and it often creates amazing results. Not only do young people do better in school and have better chances for positive outcomes when their parents and caregivers are involved in the Club, these committed adults also provide important leadership and sources of community connections for Clubs. In 2010, BGCA and Kimberly‐Clark Corporation celebrated the unique contributions of parents, grandparents and caregivers by recognizing five female caregivers and five male caregivers with the Family PLUS Inspirational Mom and Inspirational Father awards. Club professionals crafted essays detailing the contributions of each of the nominees. Beginning with the mothers and female caregivers, in the words of Club staff, these are their stories. Inspirational Parents – The Moms Kimberly Parsons Boys & Girls Club of Pleasants County, St. Mary’s, W.Va. Kim Parsons is mother to Alyssa and Jordan and wife to Chris. Kim’s unwavering support for her family, her integrity in times of difficulty and her dedication and exemplary service to the Club make her an outstanding mother. When Kim’s daughter was two years old, she was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. Kim was by Alyssa’s side, determined to help her daughter recover. Once her daughter—who has now been cancer‐free for 13 years—recovered, Kim encouraged her to participate in many different activities, including the Club, and patiently helped her through several years of adjustments. Kim’s children first joined the Club eight years ago, which is when our relationship with her began. She was one of those mothers who always volunteered to help, asking what she could do. She was not concerned about receiving recognition and was willing to do both big and small things. Sometimes she would just come into the Club and start wiping tables down or helping children pick up their games. Her quiet, unassuming example was refreshing, and Club professionals and other parents couldn’t help but notice. Kim has also recruited other parents for National Night Out events, assisted in planning and carrying out special events like the Ducky Derby and much more. Last summer, the Club’s board of governors decided to encourage greater parent involvement by passing a new requirement that all parents contribute $100 worth of service or in‐kind items as part of the Club’s annual Back a Kid campaign. Club leadership turned to Kim, who reached out to parents to help them understand the new requirement. She made phone calls and spent time at parent meetings and orientations explaining the choices for meeting the requirement, and is still part of the work group refining this requirement. Kim is also an advocate for our members; she speaks up on their behalf and helps them solve problems. Recently, Kim worked with a group of teen girls, guiding them to speak up about having been bullied by peers at school. In 2004, Kim was nominated to serve on the board of directors as a parent representative. She continues to serve actively in this capacity and is presently on the resource development, marketing and parent & volunteer involvement committee. She has completed many training sessions in order to learn her roles and responsibilities, including attending a leadership conference with the executive director, after which she reported back to the entire board about her experience. Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 12 of 33 “Kim is a working mother, but she always uses some of her vacation time to help set up and prepare for the annual Local Heroes Dinner that is the Club’s premier fundraiser,” says the Club’s PERC Plus coordinator, Sherri West. Kim can be found early in the morning taping floor covering down and moving tables into place. Later that same evening, she will often be there again, refreshed and proud to be at the event as one of the Club’s strongest supporters. Kim does not seek recognition, nor does she ever feel that she’s above any request made of her. The Club will honor her at a Local Heroes Dinner. Rhonda Shaffer Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County, Bellingham, Wash. Rhonda Shaffer is the thread that holds the fabric of our Club together. Her relentless ability to lead, unite and serve is inspiring. Rhonda is the Club’s program director. Her leadership is evident every day as she demands excellence in her staff and their relationships with the kids. She challenges each Club professional to reach out to other kids, new kids and kids who are struggling in any area. In addition to being an inspiring supervisor to her staff, Rhonda also leads and mentors youth. Through programs such as Torch Club, Rhonda provides youth with opportunities to learn and practice leadership by contributing to their neighborhoods and communities. She encourages them to take ownership of their Club, their school, their neighborhood and their lives. She leads by example. Rhonda unites people of all ages and backgrounds, bringing them together with one vision in mind: to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. She brings people together in the most unlikely of situations. For example, for the local Youth of the Year competition, she finds passionate and caring community leaders to be the judges. This provides the judges and the young people with opportunities to connect and share. She also brings families together during Family Fun Nights, where she leads and unites families in recreational activities at the Club. One evening, during a kids dance‐off, one of the Club fathers was so inspired that he joined in and even did the splits! Rhonda exemplifies the meaning of “service.” She has strong ties to local agencies and organizations, such as the “If they figure out how to clone local Kiwanis. She has empowered many groups, like City humans, I want a whole army of Year, Kiwanis and T‐Mobile to “adopt” the Club and commit to service projects. She is hands‐on and takes her Rhondas!” – Club staff role seriously, but also with much humor. She is the first one to arrive in the morning, and often the last to leave. She has a wonderful saying that sums up her service: “Boys & Girls Clubs is not a job – it is a lifestyle.” This past December, the Bellingham Club’s Youth of the Year, Vang L. – who is now the Washington State Youth of the Year – faced a terrible tragedy. His mother passed away two weeks before Christmas. Rhonda stepped up and rallied the entire community to help Vang and his teen siblings, whose father was not in the country, to care for them. Rhonda made numerous phone calls to family members, community members and agencies to make sure Vang and his siblings were cared for while they waited for their father to return from Vietnam. She collected clothes, food, gift cards, toiletries and more to make sure their daily needs were met. Rhonda provided support, a listening ear, kindness and love to these kids while they began to learn to live without their mother. In his Youth of the Year speech, Vang spoke emotionally about Rhonda and his family at the Boys & Girls Club. Rhonda has a unique ability to bring community together and improve a challenging situation. Tammy Schmittle Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Pa. Not only is Tammy Schmittle a fantastic advocate for the Club, she is also a wonderful mother to two great kids. In addition to raising her children and working full time, Tammy frequently volunteers at the Club. She attends every parent night and helps Club staff with anything we need. Tammy made cookies Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 13 of 33 for a member‐run bake sale, transports her children and others to Club events, and even gave up an entire day to help us with an annual community event called Family Fun Fest. For Boys & Girls Club Week, we collected toiletries for the Alice Paul House, a local safe house, as a service‐learning project. Tammy asked her employers at Walmart to match her $25 donation, and they did. She was able to donate $50 worth of toiletries to our drive. Tammy also supported our Keystone Club by organizing a watershed clean‐up and hoagie fundraiser. She also raises money for the Club by working overtime at Walmart. For every hour of overtime she works, Walmart donates money to the Club or other charity of her choice. So far, she has raised more than $500 for the Club. Tammy is very involved in everything that happens in her children’s lives as well. Both children participate in different sports and activities outside of school, and she makes sure that they, as well as their friends, get to every practice. She helped her daughter, Kaylee, become our 2009‐2010 Youth of the Year and has been present for every step of that process. She is teaching Kaylee to become a caring and responsible young adult and ensures that Kaylee does her best to become involved in any opportunity that comes her way. Jennifer Flory Boys & Girls Clubs of Green Country, Pryor, Okla. When Jennifer Flory’s daughter, Nora, became a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Green Country, she loved attending the Club. She often asks to stay until closing. Her daughter’s love for the Club soon became Jennifer’s as well. She is now one of our biggest advocates, praising the Boys & Girls Clubs of Green Country wherever she goes and to whoever will listen. Jennifer’s first order of business was to get inexpensive and “Jennifer Flory has proven to be just the sort of young better coverage of health leader we are trying to cultivate in our community…now benefits for the organization. we just have to keep her from doing too much so she Because she works for an doesn’t burn out!” – Barbara Hawkins, Chair, insurance company, she was able to do this for us. She often is one Chamber of Commerce of our most dependable volunteers. She is planning an etiquette session for the SMART Girls program, with a celebratory mother‐daughter tea party that she will personally sponsor. Not only is this fun for both girls and their moms, but it also provides the girls with skills needed to develop them into professional young ladies. Jennifer was the first parent to join the Parent Involvement Team (PIT Crew) and has played a huge role in recruiting other parents to become volunteers as well. This is crucial to the organization. With recent budget cuts, staffing the Club is becoming more and more difficult, and the Club relies upon the parent volunteers. Jennifer is one of those people who always feels compelled to become involved. Since completing the Mayes County Leadership Academy, Jennifer has become one of the most active leaders in our community. She is now a Chamber of Commerce board member, Rotary member, Mayes County Ambassadors Association member, MCLA Alumni member, and recently pledged to Monday Forum. We are all very proud of our Club mom and believe she is a valuable asset to our Club and community. Melissa Graves Boys & Girls Clubs of the Monroe Area, Madisonville, Tenn. Melissa has to be one of the most genuine people you could ever meet. Even with all the challenges she may face, Melissa heads into each day with a great attitude, passing that along to those she encounters. It would be hard enough to do all Melissa has to do as a full‐time, self‐employed mother of four, but Melissa and her children must do it all in the absence of her husband, Brian. Brian is currently serving in Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 14 of 33 Iraq, deployed for 445 days this time. His first deployment required him to be away while their fourth child was born, leaving Melissa to care for three school‐age children, all Club members, and their infant. Melissa has a way of affecting others positively, spurring those around her to action and has “When Melissa comes to pick up Pryor, demonstrated this in her role on the PIT Crews her son, she always stops to see how we for the Madisonville unit and Teen Center. She is are and how Pryor’s behavior was – forever helpful and accommodating to Club staff regardless of how hard or long her day and the organization. Melissa often provides food, materials, demonstrations and other services, has been. She takes pride in Pryor’s along with organizing fundraisers, recruiting academics and his behavior.” – Jeremiah volunteers and securing support for Club projects. McDaniel, Teen Center staff Inspirational Parents – The Fathers Fathers play an integral role in shaping the lives of youth, at home and in the Club. Research shows that children who grow up without responsible fathers are more likely to experience poverty, struggle in school, abuse drugs or alcohol and become involved in crime. Involved fathers and male caregivers promote children’s academic success, social and emotional development and positive behavior. Clubs report that getting fathers involved in programming encourages youth participation and improves behavior. The Family PLUS program seeks to do just that – keep fathers involved and help improve our young people’s lives. This is what Club professionals wrote about the winning male caregivers. Angel Torres Boys & Girls Club of McAllen, Texas Angel Torres is a 23‐year‐old father of two. He was referred to the Club so that we could facilitate visitation between him and his eldest daughter, Ariel. Ariel was 2 years old, and it had been more than a year since he had last seen her. When Angel came in to the Club, I advised him how important it would be for him to do his part, regardless of the outcome. I knew, due to the history of the case, that the likelihood of Ariel’s mother bringing her for a visit was slim. Angel arrived for his first visit as scheduled. He brought a “Angel Torres made a small backpack with him. I escorted him to our library, where he unpacked a coloring book, crayons, a juice box and some commitment to be a part of his crackers. He was ecstatic. The mother, Sophia, arrived with daughter’s life and, because of Ariel and signed her in, but, when it was time for the mother to this commitment, he now is.” leave, she refused to leave her daughter. I went into the library – Club staff and let Angel know that Ariel would not be staying. He packed up his stuff and said “I understand.” I did not expect to see Mr. Torres again. But, the following weekend, Angel arrived as scheduled. He was excited to see Ariel. When Sophia came, she again refused to leave the daughter. I again let Mr. Torres know, and he left disappointed. But, week after week, for three months, Angel came in for his scheduled visits and waited. For the next six months, we watched as Angel Torres visited with his daughter. Every week, he would bring her toys, read her books, watch movies with her and play dolls with her. To him, all that mattered Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 15 of 33 was that he was with his daughter. After three months, we went to court, and, because of Angel’s tenacity, we were able to provide the judge with enough evidence to work in his favor. The following weekend, Angel came in as usual, but this time, Sophia had no choice but leave Ariel. Carlos Martinez‐Olivas East Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club, Los Angeles, Calif. It was a fortuitous day when Carlos walked into our Clubhouse in the summer of 2005. His ex‐wife had enrolled their two daughters in our program, and he wanted to see where they were spending their time. Due to a difficult divorce, he was having a hard time coordinating visitation sessions. Carlos has since become an integral part of our Club family, and we even hired him in 2007. He liked the Club, so he asked whether he could volunteer. First, he offered to fix our broken fans. It was a hot summer, so we quickly accepted his offer. After that, he began coming by to help our facilities manager with landscaping and general handyman work. As our building is 60 years old, there was always plenty of work for him to do. It was a win‐win situation, because Carlos also got to spend time with his daughters at the Club. Unfortunately, many people today have jaded opinions about fathers and assume that they will bail or leave their families the first chance they get, but Carlos proves the opposite. He says that many of his family members back home in Mexico are asking him why he doesn’t come back, arguing that there is nothing here for him. He tells them they’re wrong: his reason for living here is his two daughters. When our facilities manager left “There isn’t anything Carlos wouldn’t do for the Club in 2007, we quickly offered the position to Carlos. He does and his daughters. He has a wonderful philosophy everything! He gives more hours about life and connects with nature. Life has not been than required and clocks out to easy for him, but he has found ways to persevere and volunteer for additional hours. look at the bright side, and is grateful for all he has. I He also serves as a van driver and has asked to coach soccer. see that he has many friends and I understand why. He He fixes and cleans in the is a wonderful employee and ambassador for our mornings, picks up Club Club.” – Anna Araujo, CPO, members from schools from 1:00 East Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club to 3:30 p.m. and then coaches our soccer teams until 7 p.m. He has even recruited neighborhood kids that he sees hanging out in the streets to come to the Club and play soccer. He initiated our Club’s collaboration with the Club America soccer program, which has brought 170 new members to the Club and given our members access to the training services of this for‐profit soccer academy. Carlos grew up in a rural area of Mexico, where he lived off the land, and he now shares his love of nature by inviting members to help him in the garden and to plant flowers around the Club. Working in the garden has become a reward for members who complete their homework. Carlos tells me that he was raised by a woman from his town who took him in, and I think that is why he understands so well that you do not have to be a child’s flesh‐and‐blood parent to make a difference in his or her life. I’m not sure he realizes that he now has many more children than his own two daughters. We were all blessed when Carlos‐Martinez Olivas walked through our front door, and we hope that our Club has blessed him in return. Dave Young Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 16 of 33 Ludlow Boys Club & Girls Club Corporation, Ludlow Boys Club & Girls Club, Inc., Ludlow, Mass. Dave has a long‐standing history with Ludlow Boys & Girls Club and has demonstrated a high level of leadership. He was instrumental in a number of developments within the organization. He has helped us bring to fruition some of our structural updates, such as an outdoor pavilion, updated plumbing in the locker rooms and a drinking fountain for youth. He has an upbeat, positive attitude that unites and helps to retain members in the Club, as well as involving members of the local business community. Dave has served the Club for more than five years. He volunteers his time every month to sit on the Club’s program committee, in which he has helped the Club develop programming to support its strategic plan. He also volunteers his and his children’s time to help with many “Over the past five‐plus years that I have known Dave special events throughout the year. Young, I guess the two things that stick out the most are, first, the fact that he is always smiling and, Dave’s most active role in the Club second, his tremendous dedication. I wish I could is as a volunteer baseball coach in our 8‐ to 10‐year‐old baseball bottle and sell the dedication he has shows for his program. Dave takes on the role of family, his community and the mission of this a father to these 15 kids for six or organization.” more hours each week. He teaches – Dan D’Angelo, Director of Operations, them to respect each other as well as the opposing team. Dave teaches Ludlow Boys & Girls Club Corporation them not only the fundamentals of baseball, but also makes sure everyone is happy and excited to return to play baseball the following year. Dave understands, better than any other coach I have seen at this level, that there are more important things than simply winning the game. The team’s success is not driven by wins and losses, but instead by making sure each player improves throughout the year and is more prepared to play again the following year. Both of Dave’s children have grown up at the Club. They have participated in our afterschool and summer camp programs, as well as sports such as baseball and track & field. The family balances its members’ busy schedules with their commitment to volunteering for the Club, together as a family. Michael Rice Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, Lloyd H. Diehl Club, Farmington Hills, Mich. Michael has been an advocate for youth and serves as a volunteer, basketball coach, Club photographer, special events assistant and mentor at the Lloyd H. Diehl Club. Michael’s actions make him a leader for other parents. He is always the first to offer his assistance in planning and implementing Family PLUS activities. He uses his experience as an auto assembly worker to rally parents, especially male caregivers, behind the common goal of helping kids grow into responsible, self‐reliant, caring adults. Michael strongly believes in utilizing whatever resources are on hand. He also believes that everyone has something to offer, whether it is money, in‐kind donations or time. He believes it is important that parents lead youth in positive directions by introducing them to as many positive role models and experiences as possible. A mentor doesn’t have to be a lawyer or a doctor, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to affect children’s lives. You simply need to show them that you care and recognize their efforts to do the right thing. One of the many local adults who have fallen victim to recent auto industry layoffs in Michigan, Michael nonetheless continues to call on his co‐workers, friends and associates to be part of the Club. For Michael, the Club filled a void left by the loss of his job and helped him regain his sense of self worth. Being involved with Family PLUS gave him something positive to focus on, a cause to which he could dedicate his energy and talents to the most precious resource we have – our kids. He is a true advocate for Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, particularly for our Family PLUS programs. Michael makes use of Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 17 of 33 every opportunity he encounters to talk about the Club’s role in shaping the youth of tomorrow. He is planning a father‐daughter luncheon at the Club to recognize the importance of all male caregivers in the lives of their children. He also plans to host a special “mentor day” at the Club, during which local male mentors and fathers would be encouraged to reach out to children who do not have positive male role models in their lives. Chad VanDonkelaar Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County, Hobe Sound, Fla. Among the many and varied programs offered at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County is basketball. In 2009 the Club earned the national ranking of fourth in its league. As a result of this acclaim, the Club began attracting new members who wanted to play basketball. With only one full‐time athletic director and no athletic support staff, this became a challenge, as the Club could not afford to hire new staff. When he learned of our dilemma, Chad offered to adjust his work schedule so that he could be in the Club at least twice per week to assist with the basketball program. Before long, Chad, a single dad with an 8‐year‐ old son, launched a campaign to get some of his friends, other parents at the Club and new parents to volunteer for the basketball program. The program grew so much that, on the afternoons of basketball practices, 30 to 50 parents, grandparents and other relatives could be found in the gymnasium cheering the kids on. We have an elementary‐school‐age team run solely by volunteers, and these volunteer provide other benefits to the Club, too. Chad has challenged these volunteers: If they each also volunteered with at least one non‐ basketball program, he would ask management to allow the adults themselves to play basketball at the Club twice per week. Now, in addition to basketball, these parents assist with homework help, special events, our garden project, field trips and daily, general cleaning. But Chad’s group has not stopped there: they’ve gone on to raise funds for our programs, too. Whatever challenge presents itself, the “Chad’s concern is so sincere! His concern for, Club can depend on Chad and his group and help with the kids, extends beyond their of volunteers to help out. At Family PLUS events, Chad rallies the parents to come educational activities and lives. He is greatly out and support us. At an event dubbed respected everywhere! That is how he was able “So you think you know salads,” Chad’s to convince us to volunteer for the Boys & Girls entire family, as well as his friends and Clubs, too.” – Rick Brisky, Club volunteer their families, attended. He has persuaded his mother’s employer, a retail merchandiser, to make monthly donations to us of their out‐of‐season items, which we use as gifts at our parties for good grades, good behavior and birthdays, or sell at sidewalk sales to generate funds for our snack program. One demonstration of the impact of Chad’s group on our organization is that one of the basketball teams they coach earned first place in the 8‐year‐old category of the NBA Fit Dish Dribble and Swish regional finals, and another has won two first place spots in the 11‐year‐old category of the iHoops regional competition. Through his dedication and commitment to Club programs, Chad has proven himself. Most importantly, he has developed the art of leadership and has inspired other parents to participate at the Club. He provides social, emotional and logistical support when we need it most. He guides and keeps members of our volunteer team motivated, getting them to perform to the best of their abilities. Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 18 of 33 Inspiring Clubs Organizations throughout the Boys & Girls Club Movement are going beyond the Club walls to build stronger children, families and communities with their family strengthening programs. Some of those Clubs’ exceptional programs have been recognized with the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s prestigious Families Count Family Strengthening Awards. The Club programs highlighted in this sections – award winners from the years 2006‐2009 – work to give children what they need most: strong, capable and economically successful families. Responding to the varied needs of the families they serve, these organizations improve the economic prospects of working men and women, and create the services and networks of support that all families need to realize their aspirations for themselves and their children. Boys & Girls Clubs, Raleigh, N.C. (2009) Parents have often turned to the Boys & Girls Clubs seeking advice and information about services to help them through unemployment, language barriers and other issues. Recognizing the importance of strong families in children’s lives, the Clubs offer numerous supports to help parents access resources and build their skills. At the Brentwood Boys & Girls Club, a bilingual director offers English language and computer classes for parents – 86 percent of whom are Hispanic and speak limited English. The Raleigh Boys Club holds seminars for parents focused on economic opportunities with partners such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Thanks to a Club homeownership seminar, one parent purchased a new home. Inspired by this success, more parents are working to achieve the homeownership goal, and a second homeownership seminar is scheduled for the fall. Boys & Girls Club of Springfield, Mo. (2009) Family strengthening initiatives are built into the Boys & Girls Club of Springfield’s strategic plan, demonstrating a true commitment to meeting families’ needs. At the Henderson Boys & Girls Club, staff members actively seek out parent input through a parent advisory council, surveys and a suggestion box. The Club also supports parents and caregivers through numerous efforts including kinship care programs that provide connections to community resources and mentors, free tax preparation services for families and a career fair with 20 companies to help parents find jobs. Community partnerships allow the Club to offer a wide range of comprehensive supports, including free vision and hearing testing, free dental care and holiday meals. Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club, Wilmington, Del. (2009) In response to the growing population of Latino families in the area, the Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club offers numerous programs that help low‐income, immigrant parents develop their skills and support their families’ economic self‐sufficiency. Partnering with other local agencies such as the Delaware Early Childhood Center and Delaware Department of Social Services, the Club offers English language classes, counseling services, financial education seminars, parenting skills classes, English language classes and food assistance. Santa Fe Boys & Girls Club, N.M. (2009) With a strong support network, families and children can flourish. That is the philosophy at the Santa Fe Boys & Girls Club. With help from numerous community partners, the Club provides many supports for parents and caregivers that address their diverse needs. One program helps support extended family members who have guardianship of children with newly incarcerated parents. Another program teaches financial responsibility to teens and parents. The Club also distributes more than 96,000 meals to families and offers a summer food program for children. Through the Club, families get help to register for Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 19 of 33 Medicaid and receive free tax preparation services as well. In 2009, families received $6.7 million in refunds with the Clubs’ help. Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County, Bellingham, Wash. (2009) As the premier youth development organization in its county, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County offers an array of supports for families and children. The Club serves a diverse population – children of immigrants from Russia and other Eastern European nations, Hispanic migrant youth and tribal youth. To help families maintain stability, build strong relationships and develop economic opportunities, the Club offers English language classes, computer skills and job skills classes that teach resume‐building, parenting classes and family fun nights. The Club also takes field trips to local colleges and connects families with agencies like the Other Bank, which provides needed household items. Salesian Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles, Calif. (2009) Spurred by families seeking help from staff, the Salesian Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles developed a parent survey and discovered that parents wanted resources and information on topics ranging from communication to nutrition. Since then, the Club began its Family of Parents program, holding monthly evening meetings for parents to hear from local experts and gain access to available community resources. Led by a bilingual social worker from the Roybal Family Mental Health Clinic, the sessions have taught parents about depression, drug prevention, teen pregnancy, domestic violence and more. The sessions have also helped parents connect with supports such as health care services, legal assistance and employment opportunities. Challengers Boys & Girls Club, Los Angeles, Calif. (2006) Higher Aspirations For many parents in South Central Los Angeles, Wells Fargo and Citibank have recently become more than just names on prominent downtown skyscrapers. Together with the LA Credit Union, these banks are part of a Challengers Boys & Girls Club financial literacy program that equips parents with important money management and planning skills. Together with young people from the community, these parents become students for six weeks, learning strategies for budgeting, saving, establishing good credit and optimizing even limited assets. This opportunity supports a family’s first efforts to find the economic stability needed to achieve major goals, such as homeownership or college education. “Many parents don’t trust banks and financial “For families in our community, institutions. We’re giving them that first push economic development means toward opening checking and savings accounts and making a household budget,” says Corey Dantzler, opening up financial options for all Challengers Club’s President and CEO. “When the parents and enabling them to give kids, who are also gaining skills, see their own their children the best gift: a parents beginning to prioritize finances, it sets a promising future.” good path for them as well.” —Corey Dantzler, President and CEO, Modeling Long‐Term Success Challengers Boys & Girls Club While these families may be new to using a bank for managing money, the Challengers Club staff often discovers that debt, especially credit card debt, is a substantial factor in many of their lives. The program responds specifically to this challenge by helping parents take steps to repair their credit and build a good credit history. “It’s an area of great concern,” notes Dantzler. “Our goal must be helping parents replace long‐term debt with long‐term goals. We show them that waiting too long to save for college might lead to their child’s dropping out of school. Hope might be their most precious commodity.” By engaging both parents and children, the financial literacy course is another program that helps families exercise active responsibility in their communities. While the Club designs some initiatives to Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 20 of 33 target primarily young people – such as those in the SMART (Skills Mastery And Resistance Training) model that address issues such as drug and alcohol use – many more bring families together to begin dialogues about important problems impacting their neighborhoods. These programs support the vision of Dantzler’s late father, Lou Dantzler, the Challengers Club’s founder, who contributed countless hours and boundless energy to improving the lives of young people and their families for nearly four decades. “We know our kids learn by real‐life experience,” says son Corey, who lives his own words. “When a parent becomes a role model – whether the situation has to do with saving money or just saying yes when it matters most – that young person has what he or she needs to succeed.” Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, Fla. (2008) From Family Nights to Financial Education Family Nights at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County are more than social events during which parents and children sit down to steaming plates of spaghetti and talk about the day. These fun dinners – some nights there are games and other activities – are part of the Clubs’ intentional efforts to involve and support parents so that families can thrive. As part of the Parent Liaison Initiative, each stand‐alone Club has its own liaison who works with parents to help them obtain vocational training, legal counsel and financial planning education, among other supports. While children say they enjoy Family Nights because it gives them time to talk and play games with their parents, families find so many more opportunities to improve their futures together. “These events reinforce family unity while also promoting awareness of the role that the Boys & Girls Clubs play in providing local families with support, whether it is with child rearing, banking or job hunting,” says Lottie Gatewood, director of development. When Parents are Involved, Kids Stay Involved More than 1,000 parents have participated in parent‐oriented programs offered by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County – including cooking lessons, banking seminars and resume writing classes. And because those parents remain engaged with the Clubs, youth attendance is also high. Roughly 7,500 children attend programs at 13 Clubs in the region. “Parents are actively engaged in our Clubs and encouraging their children to stay “Our family nights in the Glades region are involved,” Gatewood says. “Through the seeing standing‐room‐only events – a true Clubs, families are not only having fun, but success for such a rural and destitute area. also finding useful information and links to And, our parents are coming to parent nights community resources like summer camp scholarships, clothing vouchers and food.” in droves. We are 100‐percent vested in working with the parents of our Club youth.” Parents recently formed Parent Advisory —Lottie Gatewood, Committees at Palm Beach County Clubs Director of Development, and those committees are working to come up with new ways to help adults. One idea Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County that came out of a committee is to hold GED classes. Parents, most of whom earn less than $30,000 a year, already have access to nutrition classes, father support programs and grief counseling. “All of these programs are designed to reach out to our Club parents,” says Gatewood. “The programs encourage parental involvement, break down barriers that inhibit good family relationships, improve economic stability and build better communities.” Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 21 of 33 Boys & Girls Clubs of Perth Amboy, N.J. (2008) Sending Parents to School With the right tools and supports, parents can greatly bolster their family’s well‐being. The Family PLUS program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Perth Amboy helps parents access the community resources they need to do just that. The idea of establishing such a program came about after staff members realized that parents, many of whom work odd hours at low‐paying jobs, weren’t able to take full advantage of after‐ school programs for their children. Some parents didn’t speak English, and others didn’t own a car. In an effort to support these parents, the Boys & Girls Clubs started the Family PLUS program “We have understood from the outset that if to help them become more financially stable we were going to have any real impact on the and economically prosperous. Besides kids we support, we were going to have to English and GED classes, parents can attend parenting meetings and take financial literacy serve the entire family.” courses that teach them how to set up savings — Jorge S. Cruz, CPO, accounts. They can also meet with other Boys & Girls Clubs of Perth Amboy parents in a private, comfortably‐furnished “Parent Lounge.” “We know that the main influence in our kids’ lives is what is going on at home,” says Jorge S. Cruz, CPO. “So if we can help solve issues at home, we’re going to have a greater impact.” Education Pays Off One of the most popular classes in the Family PLUS program, which is based on a “Parent College” created by the local school system, is the financial literacy course. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Perth Amboy partnered with PNC and Wachovia banks to provide coursework and instructors. Roughly a quarter of Perth Amboy families earn less than $15,000 a year. For many Family PLUS participants – there have been 61 so far– the financial literacy class is an introduction to balancing a checkbook and budgeting. After learning the basics, parents are referred to a financial counselor who helps them stick with their budget and open a savings account. The Family PLUS program not only educates parents, but also allows them to spend more time at a facility that caters to their children. Some nights, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Perth Amboy hosts a potluck that bring parents and their children together to share a meal, talk and have fun. At these dinners, parents also learn about what their children have been doing at the Clubs, such as creating a public‐ service message about the dangers of drug addiction, or a colorful, papier‐mâché collage. “These sessions really give our parents an opportunity to see what their children are doing through the Clubs, and the bonding time together is priceless,” says Cruz. Mountaineer Boys & Girls Club, Morgantown, W.Va. (2008) With a Little Help A little help can go a long way when parents are strapped for time and resources. That’s why the Mountaineer Boys & Girls Club strives to support parents and families of its 700 members. At the Club, which serves Monogalia and Marion counties in West Virginia, parents can get help finding jobs, writing resumes, navigating their children’s schools and connecting with needed supports available in the community. For many parents – 75 percent live below the federal poverty line and 66 percent work entry‐level retail jobs – the Club becomes a partner in building a more successful future for their family. Through a Parents Council, parents are active participants in guiding the Club’s programs and services. “We always surveyed the kids on what they liked, didn’t like and wanted to do for the future,” says Dennis Poluga, CPO. “We realized we ought to do that with parents, too. Now we regularly seek parents’ input so we can help the whole family reach its goals.” Computers, Family Fun Days and Physicals Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 22 of 33 From offering job assistance to holding family holiday celebrations, the Mountaineer Club helps families access community resources and develop stronger relationships with each other. Parents looking for employment can use the Club’s computers to search local job listings and create resumes with help from staff. For families in need of emergency assistance, the Club helps find and apply for available services such as a state program that helps low‐income families pay their heating bills during the winter. The Club also arranges for youth to receive a free physical when one is required for sports or summer camps. “Sometimes families may not be aware of these resources,” Poluga says. “We promote available opportunities and help parents navigate the process of applying for these much‐needed supports.” The Club also partners with parents to support “When parents are better off, families are their children’s education. An education better off, and the kids automatically are program manager helps facilitate communication between parents and schools better off. In the long term, everyone by accompanying parents to meetings, benefits.” contacting children’s teachers at least quarterly —Dennis Poluga, CPO, and working with youth after school. In a recent Mountaineer Boys & Girls Club grading period, more than 70 percent of students had a grade point average above 3.0. Families also find fun through the Mountaineer Club. Banquet‐style holiday celebrations and monthly outings to the ice skating rink, bowling alley or movie theater help families spend affordable quality time together. Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley, Santa Paula, Calif. (2008) Books, Bonds, Stronger Futures Families that read together create loving memories and improve their reading skills at the same time. When California implemented a pre‐school reading program a few years ago, the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley came up with a creative way to help kids and parents alike. Though many parents are Hispanic immigrants with limited education and low wages, literacy skills are a must in making economic progress. That is why the Motheread/Fatheread program works to prepare pre‐school aged and elementary‐aged children for school, while also helping parents become more proficient in written and spoken English. “While the families learn valuable reading skills, they also build bonds with each other,” says Irma Magaña‐Rodriguez, parent coordinator for the First 5 Santa Clara Valley Neighborhood for Learning. “Both of these elements help families create stronger futures.” Leading the Family and the Community “In addition to providing quality early‐ In addition to family reading sessions, the Boys & learning and pre‐school experiences, Girls Clubs of Santa Clara Valley encourages the Santa Clara Valley Neighborhood for parents to take part in cooking and nutrition classes. There is a high rate of childhood obesity Learning Program enhances in the area, with many families subsisting on high‐ opportunities that promote family fat diets that include fast‐food burgers and strengthening, whether through family sandwiches. Some families also eat Hispanic reading or group cooking classes.” culinary specialties such as tamales that are made with lard and pork. But recently, many parents —Irma Magaña‐Rodriguez, parent have learned how to cook those same tamales coordinator for the First 5 Santa Clara using vegetable or olive oil and chicken or turkey. Valley Neighborhood for Learning The cooking and nutrition classes have become very popular and have helped to further establish the Boys & Girls Clubs as the source for family support and aid among local residents. “Whether through reading or cooking classes, parents are learning how to improve their family’s quality of life, health and outlook for the future,” says Magaña‐Rodriguez. Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 23 of 33 Increased parental involvement has also resulted in the formation of two Parent Neighborhood Councils in the communities of Fillmore and Santa Paula. These groups meet on a regular basis to talk about issues of child‐rearing as well as social services agencies that might help families with medical, financial or educational needs. Parents are taking notice: Since its inception nearly five years ago, the Fillmore Parent Neighborhood Council has grown from five to approximately 50 members. Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, Gary and Carol Milgard Family HOPE Center, Lakewood, Wash. (2008) Several years ago, staff at the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound noticed a troubling trend: youth were getting into fights and being excluded from Club activities. But instead of lecturing parents about discipline, staff members offered them job training, banking tips and marriage counseling. These added supports, provided by more than a dozen independent social services agencies at the Gary and Carol Milgard Family HOPE Center have provided more stability to stressful home environments. “The Family HOPE Center is really at the core of our new strategy for family support,” says Carrie Prudente‐Holden, director of operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound. “We have taken the best from the world of family support services and put them all in one place. The number of adults and youths we are reaching has grown tremendously.” Hope for All It’s easy to find help at the Home of Opportunity, Possibility, and Empowerment (HOPE) Center. As soon as families enter the lobby, they are greeted by staff members who direct them to independent service providers who have offices at the center. Adults peel off to one side of the��facility, youth to the other. While parents are “We realized that it wasn’t getting help setting up a savings account or job hunting, working to serve kids in a children play games or take computer classes. Counseling vacuum; we had to reach the services for adults and children, as well as entire families, also are provided. The Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget whole family.” Sound serve a region of contrasts. While some families earn —Carrie Prudente‐Holden, middle‐class incomes at jobs in nearby Seattle, others are Director of Operations, struggling to make ends meet. Many families are headed by a Boys & Girls Clubs of South single parent or single‐earner and a majority of children receive free or reduced lunches. A growing number of these Puget Sound households are Spanish‐speaking. “We have increased Hispanic families’ access to our center as well,” says Sue Holliday, family support worker for the Family HOPE Center, where more than 25 percent of clients are Hispanic. “Because we have a bilingual staff, we can communicate to them right away that we have the services they need.” Boys & Girls Club of Navarro County, Corsicana, Texas (2008) Mapping a Brighter Future When parents have a stable job and stable home, the entire family benefits. Next Generation: “We started our program to work with Achieving Economic Success is a program that families after we realized some families helps parents achieve economic success and were struggling to make a living in jobs become more involved in their children’s lives. that don’t allow for promotion.” By bringing together resources such as financial planning and job readiness training, Boys & Girls —Sylvia A. Waters, Program Director, Club of Navarro County helps parents take Boys & Girls Club of Navarro County advantage of opportunities that will improve their families’ lives. So far, nearly 40 parents have participated in the program. Not only are Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 24 of 33 they refining the skills they need to land more stable and lucrative jobs, but they are also volunteering to help with Club events that benefit their children. “We are giving parents skills they didn’t have before,” says Sylvia A. Waters, program director at the Boys & Girls Club of Navarro County. “We want to help them secure a better paying job and maintain it. It’s good for them and for their children.” Slow Start, Big Returns Initially, turnout was low for Next Generation meetings. Parents were busy earning a living to support their families, and they weren’t convinced that spending Tuesday nights at the Club would help them. But as word of the benefit of the meetings spread – participants met with representatives of the Texas Work Force Commission to learn how to find jobs on the Internet and write resumes – more adults started showing up. Most parents in the Next Generation class earn about $26,000 a year, and many are raising children on their own. They quickly realized that careful career planning and thoughtful job hunting might result in larger paychecks and better benefits. Boys & Girls Clubs officials also identified possible employers and then worked with them to devise a 60‐day probation period for new hires. “Once we got our parents trained, we went out into the community and said, ‘Give our parents a chance,’” says Waters. “Helping them find better paying jobs was a big focus.” The Next Generation program has prompted many parents to become more involved in their children’s lives. Parents also are serving on a Family Advisory Committee that is creating new family strengthening programs. The committee meets at the Club and, as a result, parents are spending more time with their children during after‐school hours. Another bonus: Parents feel more comfortable with staff members and are much more willing to talk about problems that may arise at work or home. Boys & Girls Club of Collier County, Fla. (2007) Millionaires and Migrant Workers The city of Naples in Collier County, Fla., is known “Our goal is to help young people grow for its affluent residents, sun‐drenched beach up to be successful adults. By helping resorts and exclusive golf Clubs. But beyond its the parents, we help the children to millionaires and CEOs, this Gulf Coast community also is home to many economically disadvantaged break generational problems and families. Nearly half of the county’s school‐aged overcome the challenges their families children live in poverty and are eligible for free or face.” reduced‐price lunches. Forty percent of births are —Lisa Morse, to single mothers. Seventeen percent of children lack health care. And many of the county’s Vice President of Operations, poorest families speak primarily Spanish or Boys & Girls Club of Collier County Haitian Creole, with a limited command of English. Despite the challenges, parents of the 1,100 members of Boys & Girls Clubs of Collier County are striving to improve their families’ lives. These parents pack Club events, work diligently in the restaurant, hotel and farming industries, and seek support for their families’ needs from food assistance to transitional housing. The Club is there to help. Through Family PLUS, parents receive free parent education, job assistance, financial education and referrals to community resources. Creating an Extended Family For many families, the Club is an important community hub not only for children, but also for parents. Parents often ask Club staff for help finding services such as counseling, assistance with utility bills and dental care. “Parents see us as part of their extended family, and we do all we can to help them,” says Lisa Morse, vice president of operations. Initially, staff members called their own dentists to ask if they would provide care for Club families. Four years ago, the Club partnered with Ronald McDonald Care Mobile and now provides on‐site, twice‐yearly free dental, medical, vision and hearing screenings. Sight for Students Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 25 of 33 also provides vouchers for free glasses to youth who need them. Every month, the Club holds workshops for parents, ranging from discipline to resume writing. Retirees and businesswomen from the Naples Women’s Club teach seminars on credit, banking, home ownership and money management. The sheriff’s department conducts a session on gang prevention. The health department teaches parents about healthy eating, exercise, diabetes and obesity. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children educates parents about Internet safety. Through a partnership with Youth Haven, the Club also offers a 10‐week parenting class using the DARE to Be You curriculum to help young mothers and fathers develop positive parenting skills. With free family meals, free child care and $200 provided to each participating family, the program has served 25 families in its first class. Eielson Air Force Base Youth Center, Eielson AFB, Alaska (2007) Connecting to Families through the Cold Located 30 miles from the nearest town, Eielson Air Force Base is a remote Alaskan community that is home to more than 3,000 military members and their families. With temperatures plunging to 20 to 40 degrees below zero, winter lasts for half the year. For youth on base, the interminable weather combined with the overseas deployment of their parents can lead to greater risk of isolation, solitude, fear and depression. As the tempo of base deployments and activities increased over the past six years, Eielson Youth Programs recognized the increased stress upon the families of its 600 members. “At first, we noticed children staying in our programs for a longer time, so we stayed open later and provided more staff,” says Deborah Conklin, youth programs director. “But we realized that parents were facing growing difficulties and pressure to support their families – often without knowing about all of the resources on base to help them.” “With new families constantly arrive Staying Connected: The Phone Booth Strategy and dealing with deployment, many To better serve families affected by deployment, Eielson Youth Programs approached Access Eielson, parents don’t know about all the a coalition of agencies on base that support families available services on base. We let physically, mentally, spiritually and socially through parents know that we are here to help.” youth programs, the chapel, an alcohol and —Deborah Conklin, substance abuse center and health clinic. Agencies began by offering specialized services for spouses of Youth Programs Director, overseas service members, such as free aerobics Eielson Air Force Base Youth Center classes at the fitness center, stress management classes at the health and wellness clinic and computer classes at the community center. The youth center also promoted better access to base resources for members’ families by hosting a Communication Fair and a Safari Party for more than 300 people. At the social events, children enjoyed crafts and games while parents met agency representatives and learned about services like parenting classes and financial literacy workshops. “Even though we advertise our services in the base newspaper and magazine, many families live off base and don’t always get that information,” Conklin says. “By drawing in families with fun activities and linking parents to resources face‐to‐face, we have become more effective in supporting our families.” Eielson Youth Programs also helps children strengthen relationships with deployed parents, providing a phone booth so that parents can easily reach their children despite the time difference and also giving families “deployment kits” with cameras, journals, books and other items to help families stay in touch. Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 26 of 33 Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake, Tooele Unit, Tooele, Utah (2007) Tools for Tooele Families Forty miles southwest of Salt Lake City, the Boys & Girls Club of Tooele is turning young lives around in a blue‐collar, copper mining, farm town with a long history of teen pregnancy, juvenile crime and underage drinking. Since 2002, the Club has partnered with the city of Tooele to provide youth with positive alternatives to delinquency, drugs, alcohol, sex and idleness. But after recognizing a persistent need to help youth particularly at risk, the Club joined with United Way to start the Helping Families Succeed program. Helping Families Succeed focuses on holistically supporting the families of youth on the brink of crisis— young people falling behind in school, talking about suicide, committing crimes, acting violently or engaging in other risky behavior. The Club started the program in response to a community survey that identified strong families as key in making a difference for youth. “We realize that supporting families helps youth to reach success,” says Allison Barclay, director of operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake. “So we help families develop tools and skills in parenting, communication, goal‐setting and accessing community resources.” Partnering with Purpose “When parents have the skills and Nearly 100 parents and youth have participated in resources to appropriately support and Helping Families Succeed since July 2004. In eight discipline their children, the children are weeks of classes, youth and parents learn valuable less likely to fall into crisis—and more skills in discipline, self‐esteem, stress management and communication. Families also meet with a case likely to rise above their troubles to manager to develop a Family Improvement Plan achieve their fullest potential.” that outlines the family’s goals and matches the – Allison Barclay, Director of family’s needs with community resources. Working Operations, Boys & Girls Clubs of with a coalition of more than 30 community agencies that meet monthly, the Club often refers Greater Salt Lake families to services offered by partners, such Valley Mental Health, which provides counseling, and Tooele Adult Education. Partners, such as the Tooele Juvenile Court, also often refer youth to Helping Families Succeed. The Club then tracks families for 90 days after the program to follow up on their progress and to provide additional assistance. Youth participants also receive free membership to the Club to encourage their continued involvement. Helping Families Succeed takes a family‐oriented approach to serving at‐risk youth, engaging and empowering parents to help their children succeed. “Parents can be the most important, positive influence for their children if they have the resources and skills to stay engaged in their children’s lives,” Barclay says. “By addressing the needs of both the child and the parents, we are better able to provide the youth with consistent support from inside and outside the home.” Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County, Plainfield Club, Union, N.J., 2007 Helping Parents to Help Their Children For hundreds of low‐income families in Union County, N.J., the Plainfield Club is a portal to a plethora of opportunities and resources. Since 2002, children in some of Union County’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods have turned to the Club for after‐school activities, summer camp, job‐hunting help, community service projects and fun. But they are not the only ones within the Club’s reach. Recognizing the need to support and engage parents, the Club began the Family Resource Center – a collection of parent‐driven programs designed to help entire families achieve success. “We knew we had to educate the parents and help them get more involved so we could work as a team to make a difference in their children’s lives,” says Russell Triolo, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County. Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 27 of 33 “Parents often were lost when it came to accessing community resources. We knew we had to help the parents to help the children.” Strengthening Families with Partners and Dances From social events to parent workshops, Family Resource Center programs are geared toward building parents’ knowledge and skills, strengthening family relationships and linking parents with relevant community agencies. The Family Resource Center serves more than 500 parents and children in Plainfield and surrounding communities with diverse offerings made possible through a network of partners. Prevention Links offers weekly workshops at the Club about parenting, health and substance abuse issues, such as managing stress and becoming more involved in children’s education and discipline. While parents attend sessions, youth have their own workshops, and younger siblings are supervised through free child care. The Plainfield Chamber of Commerce also regularly holds job‐readiness classes. And for the first time this year, the Chamber held a job fair for parents and teens at the Club. “The collaboration we have with many other organizations in the city is so important because it allows us to provide families with many of the resources they need,” says Paul Casey, Plainfield Club director. To strengthen father involvement, the Club convened “Before starting the family resource fathers and requested their input. One suggestion that came out of that conversation six years ago is now an center, parents often asked us how to annual tradition – a father and daughter dance. find job assistance, health care and Throughout the year, social events bring together the affordable services. We realized families entire family and as a result, more parents are needed better access to resources that stepping forward as volunteers and becoming more engaged in their children’s lives. could help them and their children, so we jumped in.” – Russell Triolo, CEO, Like the dance, Family Resource Center programs are Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County shaped by parents and children. A Club Advisory Council that includes parents and youth ensures that families’ needs are addressed. Boys & Girls Clubs of Vernon, Texas (2007) Engaging Families in the Farm Land In Vernon, Texas, cotton farms, cattle ranches and a bacon processing plant form the economic backbone of the community. But over the years, the declining farming industry has affected many families. At the Boys & Girls Club of Vernon, 60 percent of young members live in poverty. In many cases, extended relatives are primary caregivers for children. “It’s easy for parents to feel isolated when they’re busy making ends meet,” says Beverly Campsey, executive director. “We try to draw them in and make the Club a place that is not only welcoming to children, but also to parents and caregivers.” Based on a community assessment and discussion with partnering youth organizations, the Club started the Strengthening Families program in November 2006. The Club first focused on increasing parent “Even though we are in a rural involvement. By January, the Club had expanded community, we have many resources. outreach with bi‐weekly sessions for parents and But parents and grandparents raising youth incorporating the Family PLUS strategy with the Texas Cooperative Extension’s “Keys to children often don’t know where to get Successful Families” program. help with things like parenting advice, counseling or food stamps. We provide The Strength of Rural Resources that help.” In Strengthening Families sessions, parents and caregivers learn about effective parenting skills, — Beverly Campsey, Executive Director, positive discipline, problem solving, improving Boys & Girls Club of Vernon, Texas communication, stress management, money Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 28 of 33 management and other parenting issues selected based on input from parent surveys. Sessions are interactive. Guest speakers, including counselors and child psychologists, role‐playing exercises, games and group discussions provide fun vehicles for learning. “Best of all, parents and grandparents find confidence in each other by sharing their experiences and becoming a social support group,” Campsey says. Each session is held in the evening, when parents typically pick up their children from the Club’s after‐ school program. Dinner is provided and free child care is offered by Keystone Club members. “We want to make it as easy as possible for parents and grandparents to come and connect with each other, enhance their parenting skills, and learn about resources that benefit their children’s futures,” Campsey says. More than 120 parents, grandparents and children have attended family strengthening sessions since the program’s inception. With referrals through Catholic Family Services and the Vernon Independent School District, the Club has become a valued community resource for supporting parents and caregivers. The Club also helps families access services from other agencies including health care, food stamps and counseling. To further facilitate linking families with available services, the Club plans to create a community resource guide for members’ families. Boys & Girls Clubs of Wayne County, Richmond, Ind. (2007) Joining Forces to Impact Young Lives In a broad collaboration unprecedented in Wayne County, Ind., the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wayne County along with 20 agencies serving children, youth and families are working together to improve the future for the county’s youngest residents. Spurred by a 2002 community assessment of the blue‐collar community of Richmond, the largest city in Wayne County, community agencies recognized the need to cohesively address persistent poverty and other issues facing families. Forty‐four percent of students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. Less than 60 percent of Wayne County students graduate from high school. Increasing juvenile violent crime, teen pregnancies and academic disparities propelled the Club and other agencies to establish the County‐Wide Partnership for Youth in 2005. The County‐Wide Partnership for Youth includes the county’s school districts, chamber of commerce, United Way, the sheriff and other agencies. “The County‐Wide Partnership gives parents a central place to find information and services in our community,” says Erin Buck, director of resource development. “It also helps agencies to coordinate efforts so that families’ needs are met from every angle.” From Buses to Therapy The County‐Wide Partnership for Youth drafted a Youth Development Plan in January 2007, outlining a comprehensive vision of needs and goals not only for youth, but also for families, schools and the broader community. Goals include creating a safe and drug‐free environment, supporting parents with training and resources and increasing student academic achievement. Agencies in the coalition meet monthly to strategize new ways to collaborate and achieve the goals in the Youth Development Plan. Already, families have benefited from the new collaborations. During the 2006‐07 school year, “We must work with other agencies to Richmond Community Schools began providing comprehensively address families’ needs so free after‐school bus transportation to the that youth are fully supported in reaching county’s two Boys & Girls Clubs for all elementary success. Through our diverse, community‐ school students. Attendance at the Clubs has increased remarkably as a result, from an average wide connections, we help families access of 217 children a day to 327 children. “With resources beyond what we could provide transportation taken care of, many more parents alone.” are sending their children to our Clubs, knowing – David Woolpy, Unit Director, that they’re in a safe, positive place,” says David Woolpy, unit director. Partnering with the schools Boys & Girls Clubs of Wayne County also led to the success of the Clubs’ Positive Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 29 of 33 Alternatives program, which engages students expelled or suspended from their schools in community service, life skills learning and schoolwork sent by teachers. Through Family PLUS, parents have benefited from workshops made possible through partners such as the Dunn Mental Health Center. The center provides family counseling and also provides speakers, including psychologists, to educate parents on parenting skills and positive discipline. The Children’s Aid Society, City Challenge Boys & Girls Club, New York, N.Y. (2006) Reaching Out to Parents In 1997, the City Challenge Boys & Girls Club in New York City set out to reduce the alarming proportion of young men—more than 80 percent statewide—rearrested within three years of their release from New York’s residential detention facilities. From the beginning, the Club put early outreach to parents at the heart of its program to help young offenders make the transition back to life. “Typically, these young men do well in the upstate facility, but then come back to the same negative “To be successful with parents, we have situation,” says William Weisberg, associate to educate them and empower them. executive director of The Children’s Aid Society, We must involve them as stakeholders which runs the program in partnership with the if we really want to help their children.” New York State Office of Family and Children’s Services (OFCS). “We involve parents to start the —C. Warren Moses, CEO, reintegration process before their children come The Children’s Aid Society home. We show them the way to the support and services they need to help their children.” Giving Support, Anticipating Needs Starting months before their children come home, City Challenge reaches out to parents with a range of services and activities. The Clubhouse organizes a trip to the Youth Leadership Academy, the state facility, while the children are still there. The City Challenge Parenting Institute engages parents in weekly support groups, where they can share concerns and advice with each other. Intensive case management includes weekly contact with a caseworker for about 40 percent of the families. Such outreach helps parents become full partners in the process of bringing their children home to better situations than they left behind. “Giving parents a voice can be challenging, but it’s essential,” says Felipe Franco, Director of Juvenile Justice Programs. “They can help us learn about their children, and together we can plan for what needs to be in place for the return.” This might take the form of an activity that interests the young person, such as art or sports, job skills training or an internship program. It also might take the form of medical and dental care, mental health services, substance abuse treatment and financial assistance. City Challenge serves approximately 150 youth and their families each year. Fully half of the young people who take part in the program stay free from arrest for three years or longer. Most of them complete high school and move on to work and/or college, becoming positive role models in their communities. Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha, Wis. (2006) Steering in the Right Direction Although I‐94 sometimes links parents in Kenosha, Wis. with employment in Chicago and Milwaukee, the interstate can also present a road block to the most important job these parents have: building a promising future for their children. In recent years, the thoroughfare has brought drugs and criminal activity into Kenosha, raising concerns for all families in this small but diverse city. Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 30 of 33 For the past 14 years, parents have turned to the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha to help them guide their children down a more secure and stable path as they navigate the challenges of growing up. “Because so many parents in this community face economic and social barriers, their children do as well,” says CEO Wally Graffen. “We want both parents and children to see our Club as a way to a better future and to take advantage of the programs we offer.” Families Finding Solutions Together The Club has added programs that engage both parents and children to its roster of traditional educational and recreational activities for young people. These family programs address the issues most impacting Kenosha families. “To succeed in helping young people grow in their confidence and decision‐ making skills, we must be effective in supporting parents,” Graffen says. The Even Start Family Literacy Program boosts reading skills for Latino youth, while enrolling their parents in ESL classes focused on parents’ roles as their children’s first teachers. Families United to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and the Making Healthy Choices Conference engage parents and children in discussions about responsibility and life choices. As these programs expanded, staff saw the need to “With parents’ active engagement, we intervene in more difficult circumstances. The Club’s can have so much of an impact on the Circle of Hope program pairs children of federal lives of the young people in our Club. It inmates with trained mentors, who also support really takes a whole family to find parents at home in setting positive examples. For youth experiencing run‐ins with the law, yet another success.” initiative partners with parents in helping their — Ron Stevens, President, children find positive alternatives to delinquent Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha behavior. Kenosha staff also reach out to parents through mutual‐help opportunities designed to encourage parents to support one another and their neighbors. These include community‐wide dental screenings and clothing drives and events that bring families together, such as potluck dinners, talent shows and a Kids Day Celebration. The Club continually tries out new strategies to see what will work best for Kenosha families. “We always challenge the staff to draw parents in,” observes Graffen. “Long‐term success starts with getting these young people and their parents fully involved.” Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central Florida, Perry, Fla. (2006) Engaging Fathers and Helping Them Succeed “We are helping fathers become The Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central Florida serves 500 young people, 60 percent of whom come from nurturers for their own children homes headed by single mothers; yet the Club has just and, beyond that, good role models three men on staff. Last fall, that startling ratio sent for all of our children.” Kevin Kidd, executive director, on a mission: to find a — Kevin Kidd, Executive Director, way to strengthen fathers’ involvement with their families. Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central Florida A conversation with the local Head Start director turned Kidd on to the Nurturing Fathers Program, …. which helps fathers develop the tools they need to become positive forces in their children’s lives. Together, the two directors attended a training session in Jacksonville and began offering the program locally—first at the Taylor County Jail, and then at the Boys & Girls Club and Head Start. Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 31 of 33 “I grew up in a single‐parent home, and I know the impact that can have on a child,” Kidd says. “At the Boys & Girls Club, we want to make a better community for our children—and to do that, we have to get our fathers involved.” “The Father I Choose To Be” The Nurturing Fathers Program teaches men how to be effective fathers, focusing on topics such as discipline without violence, communication, problem‐solving and teamwork with their partners. Over the course of several sessions, men examine relationships with their own fathers, discuss their fatherhood experiences and take part in group activities. So far, 36 men have completed the program through the Boys & Girls Club/Head Start effort. “The program is powerful,” Kidd says. “It changes how men think about fathering. In ‘The Father I Choose to Be’ exercise, for example, they write a job description of how they want to conduct themselves as fathers. They use TV dads as a frame of reference, discussing who does and doesn’t have the qualities they want to emulate.” Kidd notes that the program is already making a difference. Two men married their partners soon after completing the program. Two teen fathers, who had been spending most of their free time at the Club, found jobs so they could start supporting their children. Kidd hopes to have at least 100 men participate in Nurturing Fathers. “As one participant told me, ‘We really need superheroes for our kids,’” Kidd says. “Our mission is to inspire and enable all youth to become productive and caring citizens. And to do that, we must give them strong male role models.” Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico, San Juan, P.R. (2006) A Place for Parents The Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico is no longer a place just for children. It is quickly becoming a center for “The family support program families as well, thanks to the addition of programs and strengthens parents in their roles as services for parents. In its first year, this Family Support nurturers and providers. They need Program involved more than 1,100 parents in activities ranging from job skills training and parenting classes to and deserve our help as they lay a fitness and social events. In addition to gaining new skills foundation for their children’s for their work lives and home lives, they have started to future success and citizenship.” become part of the fabric of life at the Club. —José Campos‐Fusté, “Involving parents is so important to us,” says Belissa Executive Director, Aquino‐Soto, grants coordinator. “We cannot build better Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico communities and instill values and leadership in our children without their involvement.” The main branch, located at the Las Margaritas Public Housing Complex, now features a designated space for family activities, known as “El Centro de Apoyo Familiar, Tu CASA” (The Family Support Center, Your HOME). Las Margaritas also added staff members dedicated solely to parent outreach. Building Skills for Work and Family Life At Las Margaritas, one of the most popular new Club offerings has been a confectionery workshop, where parents and their children learn how to make pastries, cakes and other baked goods. It gives them positive time together, but it also gives parents a skill they can use to start a family business. “Parents here are on public assistance, and they don’t see much opportunity for themselves,” Aquino‐Soto says. “Two mothers have already taken these skills and started businesses out of their homes.” At the branch in San Lorenzo, nearly 420 parents have improved their word processing and other software skills by enrolling in a computer class offered at the site. They also learned resume‐writing and interviewing skills. In addition to helping adults become successful economically, the Family PLUS Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 32 of 33 strategy is helping them become more successful parents. At the Mayaguez branch, about 160 parents have taken part in the FAN Club, a program designed to help them influence their children to lead drug‐ free lives. Club members gain direct access to social services, family and leadership activities, and job skills training, including computer classes and nail care workshops. “Integrating parents into Club life puts us in a much better position to impact the lives of their children,” Aquino‐Soto says. “Now that we have completed our pilot year, we look forward to spreading the word, expanding our offerings and getting more parents involved.” Boys & Girls Club of Topeka, Kan. (2006) Changing Perceptions For generations, the Boys & Girls Club of Topeka has been a place where children found activities and programs. But in recent years, the Club has evolved to provide more support for families as a critical path to a brighter future for their children. The challenge was getting that message out to parents. “We’ve always worked to instill confidence in these young people by listening to their ideas and making them feel like they belong,” says Jon Farr, CPO. “Now we’ve transferred that same strategy to their parents. That was the missing piece.” The Clubs’ focus on families received a big boost in 2003. The local Camp Fire USA council closed and the Club stepped in and absorbed the family‐oriented programs, like Community Family Clubs. Through group projects, field trips and activities with specific goals, parents and their children strengthen their relationships by learning and having fun together. Partnering with Parents “In the past, parents didn’t see the Topeka’s programs are offered in six locations, some Clubs as places for them. Now they urban and others rural. Despite their different see them as a resource for their surroundings, many of these families share limited families and the entire community.” access to computers, health information and employment resources. —Jon Farr, CPO, Boys & Girls Club of Topeka At monthly meetings called Family Nights, families share dinner, participate in group activities and discussions, and discuss family and parenting issues with guest speakers. Family Nights also introduce parents to the Community Family Clubs program and the services offered through the Club’s Technology Center. Here many parents who have never used a computer before learn how to find job leads and information about money management to build family assets. Though most of these parents have little formal education themselves, they learn how to search for scholarship opportunities to help their children achieve higher educational goals. The programs place a high priority on soliciting feedback to ensure they are serving all families most effectively. “That really validates the programs for the parents,” says Shelli McNabb, COO. “And that helps us keep the families involved over the long‐term.” Plans for the future respond to requests from parents. They include providing families with more transportation to attend Clubs’ programs, free help preparing taxes, dental screenings and drug and alcohol abuse classes. “Incorporating the Camp Fire programs helped us interact with parents a lot more often than when they were dropping off or picking up their children,” says McNabb. “Now we’re providing families with resources they just weren’t getting anywhere else.” Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 33 of 33 Putting Families First: Success Stories From BGCA’s Family PLUS Strategy Page 34 of 33