FIJ Quarterly - Summer 2022 Edition

family resource centers serve as a central source for support, services, and referrals and provide approaches to strengthen families and communities. Family resource centers are designed as and should be considered primary prevention on the frontline toward securing family preservation and family support investment. Family resource centers take the approach to creating environments where families feel safe and where it is normal to ask for help without the threat of losing their children. Family resource centers assist in cultivating environments for children and families to continue succeeding in all areas of life. To be successful, family resource centers need to be community-run and designed by those utilizing the supports and networks. Despite operating in Washington state for a number of decades, Washington state held no formal definition of a family resource center in a state mandate. During the 2021 legislative session, CHSW, alongside other family resource centers and key public and private stakeholders, led legislation that defines a family resource center in the state of Washington as, “A unified single point of entry where families, individuals, children, and youth in communities can obtain information, an assessment of needs, referral to, or direct delivery of family services in a manner that is welcoming and strength-based." 7 It was signed into law by the governor in April 2021. The legislation was the first step in bringing together family resource centers to create a strong network that advances a child and family well-being system to receive public funding for prevention, improve the quality of services through standards and training, and collect statewide data to identify gaps and inform improvements. The goal is to create a statewide Family Support and Strengthening Network that ensures coordinated quality support for families; serves as the backbone entity to leverage and coordinate the collective impact of its members; and create opportunities for service providers to meet formally and informally, exchange information, make connections, develop relationships, build capacity, develop joint projects, and address systems challenges. 8 Family resource centers are often underfunded

and cover operational costs through a braided funding model that includes public and private funding. Much of the funding comes from the community where the family resource center is located. Due to the diversity of programs and services, each family resource center is independently run with a mix of funding sources. With this in mind, CHSW wants to shift public and private funding upstream to assist and provide equitable support in all communities statewide. Sustainable funding has been a long-time challenge for family resource centers. At a Statewide Family Support summit held by CHSW in fall 2018 that brought together family resource centers and family support staff from around the state, attendees indicated a strong desire for more stable, ongoing funding streams and coordinated advocacy efforts. CHSW plans to build upon the summit in partnership with the National Family Support Network, which has helped states develop family support networks and developed standards that raise the quality of the work at family resource centers. Public Policy Solutions A statewide family resource center network that provides much-needed support for families can only be successful if the public policy also promotes keeping families together instead of family separation. In Washington state, a small group of stakeholders and lived experience formed the Keeping Families Together (KFT) Coalition with that resolve in mind. Our initiatives are centered and developed around communities, placing them in positions of power to support families. KFT- leading legislation focuses on the family in its entirety. Too often in child welfare, it is said that decisions are based on children's best interests. KFT declares that someone cannot truly convey children's best interest if you do not care about their families, as most children care deeply about their parents. With this ______________ 7 Washington State Legislature, Public Law, Defining Family Resource Centers., 2021. https:// Bill%20Reports/House/1237%20HBR%20FBR%2021. pdf?q=20220505125505 8 National Family Support Network. Family Resource Centers Networks, 2022. https://www. networks

76 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022

Powered by