Children, Youth and Families

Joining Forces for Families (JFF)

How Do the Team and Network Activities Mesh with the Goals of the Joining Forces for Families Initiative?

Assuring that Needed Services are Accessible, Integrated, Customer-focused and Address Local Needs

JFF seeks to improve the effectiveness and delivery of services by using input from consumers on what works and what is needed. The teams and networks work on three different levels toward this goal:

  1. On a family level, teams provide services through a family-based service model, in which team members bring their expertise and information to the table and work with families as an active participant.
  2. On a neighborhood level, teams support residents and citizens in their efforts to improve quality of life for children, youth, and families in their communities.
  3. On a systems level, teams use information gained through work with families and neighborhood residents to provide funders with an improved basis of information for making funding and program decisions that better meet family and neighborhood needs.

Increasing Efforts to Prevent Problems Before They Occur

JFF teams and their collaborative networks work on prevention and early intervention efforts that target whole neighborhoods, communities and individual families. For example, the free immunization clinics and school registration drives help many children from the neighborhood or community to get ready to start school, helping to prevent problems later on. Working with families to identify problems early and help obtain needed services often reduces the chances of child maltreatment or delinquency occurring at a later time. That, in turn, reduces pressure on the systems designed to address those problems.

Supporting Positive Changes in Families Through Pro-Active Problem-Solving

Independence and self-sufficiency are essential to family health. Yet, even the most well-intentioned approach can foster increased dependence on a system, as opposed to independence from it.

JFF teams and their collaborative networks actively engage families to plan for the services they need and set goals for improved family functioning and well being. JFF and family members are active partners in a task-centered approach to problem solving. This process encourages families to become independent by taking charge of their own lives and assuming responsibility for their own health and future direction.

Empowering Residents to Create Healthy Communities

JFF sites were initially selected based on the level of child and family needs in particular neighborhoods and communities. Indicators that were utilized included crime and poverty rates, unemployment, school performance, and the incidence of child maltreatment and delinquency. The JFF teams and collaborative networks work actively with residents to initiate and implement projects that foster community health.

JFF areas may have local resident advisory boards or work closely with existing neighborhood associations to support their vision of a health community. Together, they may implement activities to realize that vision. For example, if residents identify high unemployment as a problem, JFF partners may work on bringing employment and training resource staff to the community. One neighborhood identified the lack of a nearby health clinic as a major problem, so JFF members worked to bring needed health services to the neighborhood and began exploring the possibility of getting a major medical provider to locate a clinic in the neighborhood.