Keeping Families Together is at the Heart of Our Work
Judson Center has been well-known for caring families for nearly 100 years. But, did you know we also actively support families in need with family preservation efforts? Our Family Preservation programming offers families resources to help nurture a home where children and parents can thrive. Our Families Together Building Solutions Program, or FTBS offers in-person care, resources, and support to help keep families together, strong, and healthy.
The Value of Family Preservation Programs
Family Preservation services, like those offered through FTBS, have exponential value because they give families the time to get solutions to their most significant struggles in real-time with help from a caring Judson Center team member. In most cases, this personalized care becomes the backbone of preventing involvement in foster care.
The impact of these programs is undeniable. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, 12 months after completing FTBS program requirements, 85% of families served have remained safely together with no foster care placements required.
Understanding the Root of the Issue
Shevera Lopez, Director of Family Preservation, reveals that the reasons children enter foster care are often preventable. She explains, “The data shows the bulk of CPS cases are actually opened due to neglect, not abuse. Of these cases, the most cited reason for neglect is linked to three concerns: lack of housing, underemployment, and inadequate supervision.” Our team finds underlying challenges that jeopardize a family’s stability. Shevera shares, “We know that to care for a family’s overall health, we have to address the systemic and root issues that are barriers for them.”
Preservation Workers are on the Frontline of Caring for Families
FTBS workers are fierce advocates who champion the good found within every family. One example of this dedicated work is seen in the commitment of Danielle Smith-Fells, an FTBS family worker. She has been helping families in Wayne County since 2017. Danielle says, “We work with what is good, what parents can do, and what potential a family holds, rather than focusing only on the problems. This attitude leads to real progress.”
Danielle uses her positive approach to help create solutions that keep children safe at home. She says the freedom to support her clients is what makes the difference. “I’m able to tailor my services individually for each client. If someone needs substance use services, and I learn they also have housing challenges, I’m able to respond appropriately. I enjoy being able to meet a need right when I see it.”
Workers like Danielle are able to meet a family’s needs because they’ve spent time with families, three or more hours a week, listening to them and learning about them. FTBS workers are also available 24/7. This supportive presence sets the table for a collaborative process where parents and workers come together to develop a solution-based plan. This plan might include developing a safety plan for children in the home, offering parent training, teaching financial literacy, and connecting to community resources.
Poverty and Involvement in Child Welfare
Research shows that poverty plays a significant role in child welfare involvement. In fact, poverty is often mistaken for neglect and which causes unnecessary placement of children in foster care. However, to help remedy this concern, Danielle offers every family she works with a financial education.
Danielle says, “Aside from ensuring the safety of the kids, this is probably the most important thing I can leave them – stability. I offer the chance to better themselves and their family, not just now, but in the future.” Thankfully, advocates like Danielle go above and beyond to help families thrive. She continues, “We teach them how to make a budget, how to use available resources, and how to make the most of the donated support they receive from Judson Center.”
Supporting Families by Joining Forces
Danielle isn’t alone in providing for the needs of her clients. It takes a team to help families flourish Judson Center donors play an important role in meeting tangible needs.
In December, after donors have responded to requests for donations, Danielle collects gifts to deliver to her families. Also, throughout the year she visits Judson Center’s free pantry and wish room. While there, she is able to pick up basics like cleaning supplies, bedding, diapers, and other important items. The generosity of donors and volunteers helps Danielle and the FTBS team meet immediate needs. This extra layer of care gives families the time to focus on what matters most – the well-being of their children.
Community Engagement Officer, Peggy Kerr, manages these efforts. “Danielle is dedicated. I love sharing the team’s dedication and passion for serving their clients with our donors who support this program. In turn, our donors love knowing that their generosity makes a big impact and helps strengthen these families.”
At Judson Center, we believe that families are better together. We are thankful for our team of workers who join forces with donors to serve their clients with passion. Together, we are building solutions for today, and better and brighter futures for children and families tomorrow!
To learn more about our Family Preservation services visit our website.