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Family Support America Conference Summary

April 2000

attended by: Jake Weber, Melissa Becker, Kathryn Donnelly

summary prepared by Melissa with input from Jake and Kathryn

 Recurring themes throughout conference:

As family support centers develop, we need to look at: how does the community support parents to support kids? We’re a part of community support for parents….

Key ideas

I. Overview

The conference stressed the importance of parents connecting with each other as well as other informal supports in the community, especially as a way of developing parent involvement in family support centers. As parents become more empowered & involved in family support centers, centers can be more responsive to their needs and wants. The family support movement is really highlighting the idea of "making room at the table" for parents and other community members, so as to increase decision-making and leadership opportunities for parents. In order to increase parent involvement, as well as to build strong, healthy communities that are responsive to parents, it is essential that a strong component of family resource centers be building relationships with parents and other community members who use our services. Building relationships also helps us to be responsive to individual needs of diverse families.

II. Some suggestions for engaging families in the program:

III. Staff training

There was an emphasis on the need for consistent staff training in the principals of Family Support. Programs are optimally effective when all staff and volunteers deliver a consistent message of acceptance and empowerment to the families. Every staff member should be dedicated to empowering families by building relationships with them and helping them advocate and achieve what they feel is important for their families’ well-being.

IV. Increasing parent-child interaction as a way to strengthen family bonds

V. Collaboration/partnerships: an important element of the community-building aspect of family support

Collaboration can be on many levels: family centers and community centers partnering with each other on programs; staff and parents creating collaborations; parent-to-parent partnerships; and collaboration with other businesses and the like in the neighborhood/community in order to create a supportive atmosphere and services for families.

Jake’s Thoughts:

This is a terrific summary of the highlights of the conference. Those of us who attended felt affirmed that we were on the right track in terms of programming and direction, and with the knowledge that all family centers share many of the same challenges.

The three areas that the conference has inspired me to focus on are:

That's it. What do you think? Send Melissa email at to tell her. - online since April 1999
This page posted May 16, 2000

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