West Virginia Uses RWJF's Family Support Services Program Funding to Expand Its Parenting Leadership Project

Family Support Services Program--the West Virginia States Initiative

From May 1999 through October 2003, the West Virginia Governor's Cabinet on Children and Families worked to develop a statewide family leadership project to increase parent engagement in policies and programs affecting children and families, and to provide parents with community-based training for this role.

West Virginia began working on its family support agenda—programs to strengthen individual and family functioning by empowering families to manage life's events effectively—in 1990. By 1999, the state had developed an infrastructure for providing family support services, which included the cabinet; groups to plan, coordinate and evaluate services for children and families; and a structure for cross-agency initiatives.

This project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program, Family Support Services Program.

The work conducted under the RWJF grants was part of West Virginia's larger project to improve services for families and children. During the grant period, the larger project received additional funding of approximately $3 million, primarily from the state.

Key Results

The cabinet:

  • Hosted four annual family leadership conferences (2000–2003) to bring families and their advocates together to share ideas about how to improve services for families and children.
  • Held 31 family issue forums throughout the state on citizens' feelings about their relationship with schools and public education and how to support low-income working families.
  • Held 11 community forums to gather public opinion about the Governor's Cabinet on Children and Families.
  • Created three family leadership cultivation teams (composed of parent leaders and consultants) to assist family groups with community projects for children and families and build their leadership skills for implementing the projects.
  • Developed four new family resource networks and further developed the existing 40 family resource networks statewide to build and sustain community capacity to improve services for children and families.