FIJ Quarterly - Summer 2022 Edition

Neighborhoods A neighborhood collaborative strengthening social capital to promote a safe and thriving community. Supported through local private philanthropy, the primary effort being resident leadership development and special activities to increase social connections . Creating a local umbrella structure was the first step in our journey. If we were going to design a local effort that authentically reflected the hopes and dreams of local families of the identified zip code, two things were critically important: We had to have to time to deliver on smaller requests to prove our reliability and earn trust to show we were in this strategy for the long- haul. We could not explicitly advertise this as a child abuse prevention strategy but genuinely approach it from a mindset of improving the quality of life for children and families at the neighborhood level. The latter point is critical because it targets the power differential and

The reason I do this is very simple; I think the term “environment” suggests where a person lives while receiving any one of many services that they require. When we talk about putting a person into a “program”, it suggests we’ve already determined what type of services they will receive and once they are there they can only receive the services that the program offers.” 8 We did this by extended listening, which, thanks to the flexibility of a local funder, allowed us to build feedback pathways. We constructed a community advisory board and a parent advisory council, recruited neighborhood parents to become ambassadors, embedded staff at local schools to ask teachers and administrators what they needed, and many other mechanisms. The delicate balance was to mobilize the professional community while still ensuring It is by no means a perfect operation, but its hallmark is the steadfast commitment to the process and honoring lived experience. Because of this need for intentionality, you can’t simply open up new initiatives like McDonalds. Seeds have to be planted and relationships have to be cultivated over time. Today, we support a modest operation in a rural community where we focus our energy on three primary buckets of work as a convener focused on collective impact through unconditional care, with a focus on emphasizing proactive, voluntary, authentic, and integrated community relationships that maximize strengths and address root causes to cultivate hope and well-being in children, families, and communities. It’s universal, and we focus on creating ways to engage without stigma, services we’d all feel comfortable accessing regardless of our circumstances. that local families were driving the initiative. When we asked what was needed, we heard answers, and worked to navigate systems to bring the missing resource.

focuses on things all of us want for our children. Families

A blend of in- home services and parent collaboratives that support strong and resilient families. Authentic relationship building and flexible funding to respond to family-driven needs.


p h i c

Originally supported through the Title IV-E waiver in Maryland, and continuing today with the Maryland Department of Human Services, the primary efforts being voluntary family support services and the umbrella infrastructure to convene partners, grants, and other opportunities. Why did we do it? In our extended listening process, local families and partners were consistently seeking resources to meet both basic resource needs and more long-term complex family challenges. They didn’t want to access government or more acute services because of concerns about being ‘labeled’ or ‘monitored’. We had done ______________ 8 Dennis, Karl W., and Ira S. Lourie. “The First Family I Provided Care To.” Everything Is Normal until Proven Otherwise: A Book about Wraparound Services , CWLA Press, 2006, 181.

98 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022

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