Children, Youth and Families

Joining Forces for Families (JFF)

Sounds Good, But How Does It Work?

JFF Core Teams and Collaborative Networks:

The first step the partners took was to establish JFF core teams and broader collaborative networks that focus on a targeted neighborhood or community, according to its middle school or high school attendance area. JFF core teams are generally comprised of a law enforcement officer, public health nurse, a county community social worker, school personnel and a community support specialist (at some locations). The broader JFF collaborative networks that form are based upon the local context and can consist of a number of different stakeholders such as citizen members, service provider personnel (e.g., Headstart, CAC), probation and parole, clergy and others. JFF teams and collaborative networks have office locations in a variety of settings in the neighborhoods and communities they serve. The first three sites were established in . As of year , there are twenty-six (26) teams in place serving every middle school attendance area within the City of Madison and every school district within Dane County.

Most JFF teams work with the community in two different ways. First, they work collaboratively to address the needs of families and children who come to their attention. They also respond to basic needs (e.g., food, clothing, shelter, housing, transportation) or to more comprehensive personal and family needs (e.g., child and family matters, mental health or AODA issues).

Secondly, JFF teams and their collaborative networks work to support efforts to make their community a safer, healthier place to live. That may mean supporting a job fair at the local neighborhood center, conducting outreach for a immunization clinic, implementing a back-to-school event to register and equip students for school or holding local meetings to problem-solve around drug problems and safety. JFF teams and their members also communicate with their respective organizations and other funding sources (i.e., the County; the City of Madison; United Way, and other cities, villages and towns, school districts) to identify local resource needs and ways service delivery can be improved.

JFF teams and their collaborative networks serve thousands of families and work with neighborhood and community residents to support events and initiatives identified as priority needs within the areas. Examples beyond what is mentioned above include:

  • mentor and reading programs for school-age children;
  • after school and summer activities for children and families;
  • neighborhood/community get-togethers;
  • youth resource centers for middle school youth;
  • peer mediation programs; and
  • parenting classes and support groups in local neighborhoods