Family Support Services Program

An RWJF National Program

Dates of Program: September 1994 through December 2004

Field of Work: Family support programs

Problem Synopsis: Children's health and well-being are directly related to their families' ability to provide for their essential physical, emotional and social needs. These abilities have been reduced by many factors, including single parent families and working mothers, family poverty and unsafe neighborhoods.

Synopsis of the Work: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) funded the Family Support Services Program to help selected states establish statewide networks of community-based family resource and support service centers and to support and advance the family support movement nationwide. The program worked in eight states: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Washington and West Virginia.

Key Results: In 2003, the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Assessment and Policy Development conducted an independent assessment of the eight states that participated in the Family Support Services Program. Key assessment findings included:

  • The initiative was successful in encouraging and stimulating the eight participating states to make changes in policies and practices in line with family support principles-especially in the area of front-line practice-through staff training, parent involvement in key activities and parent involvement in decision-making.
  • All eight states identified changes that were expected to endure beyond the life of the initiative in three categories:
    • Changes in the attitudes and values of key stakeholders, particularly concerning the role of parents and families in decision-making;
    • Creation or strengthening of organizations or relationships that provide the ongoing capacity to promote family support within the state;
    • Increased capacity for providing training in family support through materials, tools and organizations.