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Volume XIV, Number 1 & 2, Spring 2008
Issue Topic: Building the Future of Family Involvement
Evaluations to Watch
Sharon Hemphill and Holly Kreider describe how the Boys & Girls Clubs of America is implementing and evaluating an initiative that goes "beyond the walls" to support families in order to promote children's success.
Children from strong families have the best opportunities for success. Families play a key role in seamlessly connecting communities and have the greatest influence on young people's development. That's why Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA)—in its efforts to enable children to fulfill their potential—has a strong commitment to strengthening families. Generous support from the Kimberly-Clark Corporation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation allows Clubs to implement family strengthening programs critical to young people's success.
Thanks to such generous support, for many years BGCA has overseen recognition and financial awards programs that reward Clubs for providing outstanding services to families. Building on the success of these programs, BGCA began implementing the Family PLUS (Parents Leading, Uniting, Serving) initiative in 2005. Family PLUS is designed to form collaborations with parents and caregivers to assist in the positive development of youth. With a commitment of $7 million to the initiative, the Kimberly-Clark Corporation has provided 79 grants and 48 awards to Clubs for the implementation of Family PLUS so far, with plans for grants and awards to additional Clubs in 2009.
The central strategies for the Family PLUS initiative include kinship care, father involvement, economic opportunity, outreach strategies and the Family Advocacy Network (FAN) Club (an empirically supported family support program). Clubs have been using these strategies to create networks of support and to help families spend more time together. To facilitate implementation of Family PLUS, BGCA recruited an advisory committee of youth development experts who rolled up their sleeves to plan, critique and perfect the program's framework. In its endeavor to expand the influence of the Boys & Girls Clubs Movement beyond the walls of the Clubs, BGCA has also placed the importance of enhanced family support within IMPACT 2012, its 5-year strategic plan (see sidebar).
BCGA Strategic Objectives
Family PLUS fits within BGCA’s four strategic objectives for priority focus over the period 2008 to 2012:
The third objective spans community partnerships, civic engagement, brand awareness, and a leadership role for BGCA in youth development. One critical strategy identified for achieving this objective is to promote programs and partnerships that go beyond traditional out-of-school time activities to strengthen families and communities.
Through Family PLUS, Clubs around the country have created and implemented promising new strategies. For example, the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, California, initiated a counseling program, in which the Club contracted with a family therapist to conduct monthly sessions with teens and their parents, allowing youth and parents to talk through their differences. Other sites have offered a host of courses for parents, such as English as a second language, cooking, parenting, fitness, technology and financial literacy. Clubs also have a network of outside community resources to meet more intermediate and advanced family needs.
A process evaluation focused on the implementation of Family PLUS has been completed with the help of Sociometrics Corporation in Los Altos, California. Evaluators codeveloped a logic model with BGCA staff, evaluated our first Family Support Symposium, and collected data from lead staff and families at Family PLUS Club sites to assess a) capacity-building efforts by BGCA through training and technical assistance; b) implementation, usage and satisfaction with Family PLUS key strategies; and c) families' reported time spent together as a result of programming.
This data was collected through a symposium exit and follow-up survey; surveys and phone interviews with chief professional officers and lead staff at Clubs; surveys and focus groups with parents/caregivers; youth focus groups; and document review. Findings revealed effectively implemented family support programming across Clubs, with high usage levels and few barriers experienced by parents, and with innovative strategies abounding. Club leaders appreciated BGCA's national family support symposium and craved other opportunities to learn best practices and exchange ideas with colleagues. All stakeholders reported positive effects on family togetherness, through time spent together at Clubs, improved parenting skills, and parents' fuller understanding of their children's talents, interests, and peers. A continuation of the evaluation in 2008–2009 will further explore these findings.
This evaluation is helping BGCA track the progress of its efforts to support families. Along with activities such as the annual Boys & Girls Clubs Day for Kids celebration and a partnership with the Alliance for Children & Families during National Family Week, Family PLUS is a central part of BGCA’s recognition of the important role families play in society. Strengthening the familial bond will continue to be an important emphasis of the Boys & Girls Club Movement. For the Boys & Girls Clubs, giving kids the tools they need to succeed is all in the family.
Health and Life Skills
Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Program & Youth Development Services
1275 Peachtree Street
Atlanta, GA 30309