Spokane, Wash.: To Avoid Social Isolation, Program Links Single Parents with Faith-Based "Family Friend"

    • August 26, 2005

Starting in May 2001, Washington State University School of Public Health planned and implemented an intervention to link families in faith-based congregations in Spokane, Wash., to isolated single-parent families in their communities.

The project, Family Friends, was designed to alleviate social isolation, to improve health in families receiving services and to help those recipients become participants in the church community.

To recruit families willing to serve as sponsors, project staff relied on suggestions from ministers, from the volunteer coordinators appointed by participating churches and from each church's social justice committee. Each church provided from one to seven sponsor families.

Key Results

  • Seventy-five families completed at least the baseline interview and were matched to sponsor families over the course of the grants.

  • Project staff provided ongoing orientation and training sessions to all families.

  • Participating families committed to speaking to each other at least weekly by telephone and to arranging a social activity together at least once each month.