Last week, the West Virginia Alliance of Family Resource Networks, a member organization comprised of participation from a variety of Family Resource Networks throughout the state, united with state Legislators and community advocates showcased the power of collaboration.
During a presentation in the West Virginia Senate Chambers, those serving on the Alliance Executive Committee proudly displayed the check totaling over 10 million dollars that was leveraged by these 44 FRN’s from across the state at a rate of 14:1. This leveraged total was based on monies that were collected independently through other grant and foundation based funding streams that, otherwise, would have been unavailable to communities throughout our state.
Family Resource Networks, known for their collaborative efforts in identifying the resources needed most within their individual communities, have also been known for bringing new and innovative strategies to serve their areas in the most effective manner possible. Although the FRN’s operate collaboratively within the Alliance, each is uniquely suited to what their community needs the most.
April Miller, Alliance Chairperson and Director of the Tucker County Family Resource Network, stated that, “The monies that FRN’s provide not only goes to basic needs, but is actually part of an overarching environmental approach to changing how we see our communities… Changing the norms, if you will.” When asked about how each agency does this, she said, “Every County in West Virginia is different. Likewise, every need is different. FRN’s have worked to start Starting Points Family Resource Centers, In-Home Family Education programs, partner with food banks, promote health and wellness, tackle the detrimental effects of substance abuse, or whatever that need is. The needs of Mercer County are different than the needs in, say, Marshall, or Randolph, but by collaborating within the Alliance and putting together these unique partners lets us tackle the issues where it matters most… At the local level!”
For the past twenty years, these organizations, although separated by a diverse geographical territory and individualistic characteristics, are one of the most critical resources that a community can have. By providing access to critical information on what resources are available, having answers to basic needs for children and their families, and educating everyone about the latest trends and changes, FRN’s are uniquely linked to ALL sectors of the communities they serve.
Unfortunately, Family Resource Networks, like many other programs within the West Virginia budget are being cut in what is seemingly an annual basis. Just 10 years ago, FRN’s and other community based programs, had a greater operational budget and leveraged dollars were easier to obtain. This year, despite the success in leveraged funds, there is concern that the cuts will continue to reduce the amount that is available long term.
To raise the awareness on this and other issues, the AFRN has partnered with the Our Children, Our Future Campaign. Collectively, other agencies have joined in showing how the prevention based programs are working together to end poverty and increase positive change in communities across the state.
Collectively, issues such as the Future Fund, Substance Abuse Prevention Strategies, Minimum Wage increase, School Physical Fitness, Home Visiting Programs and more have worked tirelessly to show the true value of community based partnerships.
Miller reiterated that, “We are so thankful to our Legislative partners that truly understand our work and help keep funding in place where it is needed most. By showing their support, it lends a voice to every family in crisis, gives hope to every mother in need, shelters a child from the weathers of life, and comforts the desires of those without hope.”
For more information please contact the WVAFRN Chairman and Director of the Tucker County FRN, April Miller at 304-478-3827.