Our Positive Family Connections strategy supports children, young people, and families to build and strengthen happy, healthy relationships. Best Starts is partnering with these organizations to support families, especially during times of transition and significant life changes.
We are excited to announce our 12 Best Starts awardees receiving Positive Family Connections funding:
Here’s what the community partners are sharing about their work in their own words:
Atlantic Street Center (ASC): ASC will provide parenting and family support to parents of our youth participants and to parents living in our community. We believe, by providing parents with a strong foundation of support through our programming, it will strengthen their family connections, increase parent-child relationships, and provide access to community resources. Our overarching goal is to remove or reduce stressors such as health and mental health, limited finances, food insecurity, transportation issues, and more systematic barriers led to the isolation of many parents and families in our community.
Catholic Community Services (CCS): Funding awarded through this RFP would partially sustain current staffing and program. Kinship families depend on our work. Our team includes two current kinship caregivers, and two former kinship caregivers. Current staffing level reach over 300 kinship families per year with direct services, advocacy opportunities and networking events. Direct services include help with rent, utilities, food, fees for child activities, and more. Through continued Best Starts funding, the second Navigator position and the Kinship Assistant would provide resources, one-on-one support, addressing challenges that “informal caregivers” face, and financial assistance to 38 families from July to December of 2022, and 150 families in 2023 and 2024. CCS Kinship would continue staffing support group leader meetings mentioned above.
Congolese Integration Network: The Umoja Project creates Positive Family Connections between parents and youth. It is woven into our existing CINYSP youth program, through which we provide middle and high school youth trauma informed support, leadership development, community and peer mentorships, and help connecting and communicating with teachers and school administrators. We will continue, deepen and build upon the current Umoja Project, using lessons learned and feedback from parents, youth, and staff.
Iraqi Community Center of WA: One primary goal is to bring equity and social justice to the community to inform and empower parents with accurate and timely information in Arabic, delivered by members in the community and at a safe and culturally relevant community space. We will offer workshops for parents and youth addressing system navigation and healthy communication skills.
Kandelia: The primary goal of the Immigrant/Refugee Family Support Programs is to serve family members by supporting healthy communication and positive relationship development with families across multiple languages and cultures, above and beyond technical skills. We will expand current family programs to support more families in additional language groups.
Mary’s Place: Through Positive Family Connections, our goal is to engage families experiencing homelessness in fun, family-centered programs to increase the connection and relationship between youth and their families and address the trauma of homelessness to ensure healthy development and well-being for youth and their family. We know the shelter environment and experience of homelessness is highly stressful and family members are pulled in many directions during their stay in our shelters as they pursue housing, employment, schoolwork, and other goals, and address their trauma.
Mother Africa: Our goal is to provide a safe platform for parents and caregivers of youth to express their concerns and aspirations, and then provide them with resources to preserve their families. This platform will help to build environments where children can feel secure and welcome to engage with their parents and family cultures broadly and will provide youth with equitable opportunities to thrive. Specifically, we will facilitate intergenerational and cultural heritage bonds, restorative practices, personal development for young people and parents/caregivers, and overall connection among these family members. To those ends, our meeting sessions will likely include a variety of topics and activity strategies.
Open Doors for Multicultural Families: We provide case management to 100 families. A family is connected to a cultural navigator who shares their culture and language. Staff completes an assessment of family needs, connects families to services, and conducts follow-up calls. Services are delivered via phone calls, video calls, and in-person meetings. There are 10 Parent Support Groups, broken out into cultural communities, which may include African American families and families that speak Amharic, Tigrinya, Arabic, Kurdish, Spanish, Somali, and Vietnamese. Events are held virtually, in-person or in a hybrid model based on public health guidelines and family needs.
Resilient in Sustaining Empowerment (RISE): Our Best Starts project goals are for approximately 80 to 120 Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) families in King County to find healing, community, and support, sufficient to restore a strong family life and provide a loving foundation for their children, while raising awareness in the broader community of this critical need. Young people and families who participate in our workshops will find a safe space where they feel respected, heard, and valued. They will learn concrete tools for managing their grief and that of their children, and for strengthening family relationships.
Southeast Youth and Family Services: Strong Connections-Powerful Futures (SC-PF) is a culturally informed, non-traditional therapeutic affinity space for Black, East African, and Chinese immigrant and refugee families that creates opportunities for connection and skill-building. It is run by East African and Chinese therapists who, through their lived and professional experiences, are familiar with navigating the complexity of intergenerational relationships. There will be three implementation components, including workshops, family dinners, and activities.
Southwest Youth and Family Services: With Best Starts funding, we will build capacity and expand our youth and family programming funded in the last round of Positive Family Connections. Family Advocacy is a foundational element of our New Futures program and without it, youth would not achieve the same level of academic or personal success. Each of our New Futures sites provides family advocacy through a full-time Family Advocate along with out-of-school academic support and enrichment activities for youth ages six to 21.
Technology Access Foundation (TAF): TAF envisions its MakerSpaces as scholar-focused and directed hands-on spaces for students to learn science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through self-directed tinkering and exploration. At MakerSpace, students can enhance their STEM learning by creating models or prototypes of the products of their project-based learning. With this experience, students will feel more deeply connected with their STEM learning, leading to positive outcomes including improved engagement and connections with school, leading to improved grades, school attendance, and strengthened school relationships. Programming will consist of four courses or programs: in-school class visits in collaboration with teachers, with focus on STEM curriculum; bi-weekly after-school classes for students with focus on STEM innovation; weekly evening classes for parents/guardians/adult family members of enrolled students, focused on digital literacy and employment skills; and monthly weekend workshops for parent-child groups, focused on creative collaboration. The two co-managed schools, TAF@Saghalie in Federal Way and TAF@Washington Middle School in Seattle, serve communities highly impacted by racial inequity in education, and racially disparate access to educational and economic opportunities.