Economic inequality and poverty are prominent social ails in the U.S, with implications for the health and well-being of families. Ongoing work is needed to develop and evaluate interventions that effectively and holistically empower families on a path toward economic viability and away from intergenerational poverty. In North Carolina, four ZIP codes in the Greensboro area are marked by levels of poverty that notably exceed state and national averages. In response to these economic dynamics, the United Way of Greater Greensboro (UWGG) and its community partners targeted poverty reduction efforts in Greensboro by launching the first Family Success Center (FSC) in 2015. Currently housed at Guilford Child Development, the FSC approach to poverty alleviation brings together best practices as outlined by national organizations including United Way Worldwide and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Center for Working Families. Specifically, the FSC uses Integrated Service Delivery and intergenerational approaches to meet holistically the complex needs of families challenged by economic inequality, with a particular focus on the following core areas: employment, education, financial capability, health/wellness, and family/child development.
Beginning with a Family Partnership Agreement facilitated by a case manager, the FSC brings together a host of community resources and partners to support families. The FSC operates five days a week, and offers a variety of courses and workshops to help individuals and families meet their specific goals and needs. In addition, rather than simply moving families away from federal poverty levels, the FSC aims to support families on a path toward financial self-sufficiency—a more ambitious ultimate outcome. The self-sufficiency standard is defined as the requisite level of income, with respect to a given geographic area and family structure, by which a family can successfully acquire all basic needs without reliance on public or private financial assistance.
The FSC has undergone initial pilot-test evaluation, with promising results. As of December 2017, 169 households (221 adults and 139 children) were being served by the FSC, and the UWGG is developing a plan to open three more FSCs in Greensboro by 2022. The Jordan Institute for Families has formed a partnership with the UWGG to support these efforts. With facilitation from the Jordan Institute for Families, the core aims of the partnership are to 1) Establish and maintain a collaborative, co-learning relationship to infuse FSC processes with the best available science and evidence; 2) Bolster program evaluation efforts by establishing a data-collection mechanism to inform FSC improvements and monitor observable impact over time; and 3) Support and inform the expansion of the FSC model in Greensboro and beyond through ongoing process and outcome evaluation and knowledge dissemination to key stakeholders.