Families Forward received $29,000 to provide services to 9,000 near homeless, low-income children and adults and rapid re-housing to 600 homeless children and families.

Description of how the funds will be used: To provide supportive services to 9000 near-homeless low-income children and adults, and provide rapid re-housing to 600 homeless Orange County children and their families.  The goal is for families to become independently and stably housed within their existing community.

Description of Project/Program, what makes it compelling, and the specific needs it will address: This program is a comprehensive approach designed to address immediate critical needs but also to help families create and achieve their own realistic long-term goals and to hold them accountable. Families receive assistance on average 4 to 6 months and are given the tools and education to live life with dignity and provide permanent stability for their children.

 

Describe the Organization or Project as it pertains to the following Impact Giving Grant Standards-

High Impact & Life Transforming: Families receiving assistance often have nowhere else to turn. They are single mothers or families blindsided by a child’s illness. Families Forward gives desperate families the tools they need to help cope with these realities and provide stability for their children. All clients in the Housing Program transform their lives through their own determination and perseverance. Through housing, support services and counseling, families receive guidance and the confidence they need to make lasting, impactful changes that shape their children’s lives.

Education: Families are offered counseling in the form of one-on-one, solutions-focused, individual sessions for children and adults or group sessions with topics that range from job loss to women’s support. Through personalized one-on-one case management meetings, families are taught critical skills regarding money management and budgeting as well as tenant rights and how to be good renters. They also offer job training through a Career Program which has been highly correlated with the success of families participating. They offer short term “crisis” mental health counseling and refer long-term needs out to appropriate long-term counselors.

Sustainability: FF has been operating since 1984. Funding comes from government grants, private foundation and corporate grants, and the community through contributions and in-kind donations. New funding sources are continually sought and thanks to Families Forward’s exemplary management of funds, 89% of all contributions directly serve clients.  Over 2000 volunteers work with the organization, logging 20,000 volunteer hours in 2016.

Measurable: Success is measured by the number of meals served, strength of developed user relationships, volunteer and supporters numbers. An increase in organizations donating food equates to more families fed.

Community Building: Families Forward partners with numerous agencies and other partners to ensure clients’ success including 211 Orange County, Consumer Credit Counseling Service, Healthy Smiles, OC Rescue Mission, Project Hope Alliance, Second Harvest, WIC, Women Helping Women, Working Wardrobes, faith-based organizations, city administrations and local school districts, and HUD.

Innovative: FF focuses on “rapid re-housing” to keep children in the same community and school.  The biggest indicator of student success in school is the length of time in the same school. FF has built innovative relationships with apartment communities throughout the county, forging partnerships with apartment owners to place families within their communities. They have rehabilitated buildings now used for affordable housing through a partnership with the city of Lake Forest and private companies.  These efforts improve neighborhoods while providing reasonable housing options. This has resulted in similar opportunities in Mission Viejo, San Clemente and La Habra, and are now receiving HUD subsidies to continue this work.

Measurable: In 2016, 93% of families surveyed one-year post-graduation remained stably housed. Anticipated outcomes:

Short-Term: 175 families (over 600 children) will enter the Housing Program and will no longer be homeless or housing insecure.

Long-Term (follow-up is conducted six months and one-year post-graduation):

85% of families will secure and maintain stable housing

75% of families will increase or maintain their annual income

FF is developing a Long Term “Client Track Database” which monitors families who pop up later in the HMIS system asking for assistance.

Organization’s Mission Statement: The mission of Families Forward is to help families in need achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through food, housing, counseling, education and other support services. Families Forward is committed to serving each family with the core values of dignity, empowerment, accountability, community spirit, and hope.