To support and strengthen families and promote the well being of children through community-based, culturally-sensitive prevention services.
FAMILY FOCUS GOALS ARE
1) to reduce parent isolation by increasing parent-to-parent support and linking families to valuable community resources,
2) to increase parents' knowledge of child behaviors and development, and
3) to promote positive and nurturing child management skills, reducing the risk of child abuse and neglect.
FAMILY FOCUS IS
. . . a non-profit family resource and support program serving families with young children including pregnant and parenting teens.
. . . a place where parents and caregivers can go with their children to participate in parent/child activities, discussion groups and workshops on issues relevant to parents and families.
. . . a program that offers specialized services for families experiencing hardships, such as home visits and referrals to other agencies.
. . . a program for pregnant and parenting teens that helps them stay in school, supports them in their role as parents and guides them in caring for their children.
....a program using Wingspan’s evidence-based Al’s Pals: Kids making Healthy Choices in the before preschool program
. . . an organization that strives to bring together parents and caregivers, community organizations and schools for the sake of the child.
. . . an integral part of the
FAMILY FOCUS HISTORY
1983 First Family Focus program opens as a program of Colonial Services Board in York County with funding from a Virginia Department of Social Services Family Violence Prevention Program grant.
1984 Family Focus is recognized as a Model Child Abuse Prevention Program by the Governor's Task Force on Prevention.
1986 Mary Immaculate Hospital of Newport News joins the Colonial Services Board to fund and administer the Family Focus Grafton program. The partnership continued through 2004.
1987 Family Focus is established in Williamsburg, co-funded by Colonial Services Board and Mary Immaculate Hospital.
1996 Family Focus is awarded funding for pregnant and parenting teens support. This is now funded by York County and Williamsburg and James City County School Divisions.
1997 Parenting class in the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail designed and piloted. Linkages: Building Strong Connections continues to be supported by a wide variety of funders.
2004 State general funds reduction resulting in loss of Family Focus Coordinator position.
2005 to present: Numerous grant awards received for Al’s Pals, fatherhood initiatives, and parenting classes.
December 31, 2009 State general funds reduction will result in loss of all Family Focus program funding from Colonial Services Board.
Free developmental screenings for participants and home visits for families in need are provided for participants when indicated. Staff is involved in many community initiatives and interagency collaborations. Family Focus is supported by an active Parent Advisory Council and program registration fees. Family Focus serves approximately 300 families annually.
Collaborators include the Department of Social Services, the Historic Triangle Substance Abuse Coalition, the Williamsburg Community Health Foundation, the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail, and the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Fund. Classes rotate through a variety of locations convenient for residents. Locations include local churches, the Poquoson Community Center, and the Grove Community Center. Parenting Classes are grant funded.
A unique parenting class was designed for Hispanic parents in our community. The Hispanic population in WJC has been increasing and this population is dealing with many challenges. Many do not speak English, are not familiar with community resources, and have economic hardships. Bilingual parent educators are able to help address needs and refer to services when indicated.
Linkages: Building Strong Connections provides education for inmates at Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail. Weekly parent education and once a month parent/caregiver/child group are provided. This is the only contact visitation experience parents/children have during the incarceration period.
School-based groups for pregnant and parenting teens help them stay in school, supports them in their role as parents and guides them in caring for their children. Currently funded by the public school systems in York County, Williamsburg and James City County.
Other classes include infant massage, stress management, Active Parenting, Active Parenting of Teens, 1,2,3,4 Parents and Dad’s Make A Difference.
Need for service: Parents with young children often lack parenting skills and knowledge to encourage the healthy development of their children. The underlying causes of child abuse are complex. Child abuse occurs for many different reasons. Stress from poverty, isolation, or parental inexperience are often precursors for abuse. In many cases it is an intergenerational cycle. Early childhood is a critical developmental time. Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their partners and children when they become adults (NCADV, 2006). Child Health USA (2006) reports that 78% of abuse/neglect is committed by parents; 10.6% of abuse/neglect is committed by other relatives or unmarried parental partners. Other consequences associated with poor parenting include failure to provide children nurturing, opportunities for stimulation, and developmental assessments. Long range consequences for children may include substance abuse, emotional and developmental problems, and engagement in risky behaviors.
Families are increasingly stressed with economic concerns during these tough times. Providing support for young parents, already stressed with adjusting to the responsibilities of parenthood, is more important than ever.