Before memories of 2015 fade it’s worth taking a look back at 2015, which was truly a momentous year for Family Services.
It was a year of anniversaries, a testament to the legacy of our service to the community. Founded in 1905, the agency celebrated its 110th anniversary in 2015. Among programs marking decades of service were Head Start (50 years), the Shelter (30 years), Time Out (30 years), the Child Advocacy Center (15 years), Ways to Work (15 years), and Safe on Seven (10 years). And the Adoption Program, the agency’s oldest program, was successfully accredited by The Hague Adoption Convention and relicensed by the state of North Carolina.
2015 also marked the start of a new program with the award of a $2.3 million federal grant to establish the Early Head Start (EHS) program in Forsyth County. In order to provide quality child development services to 120 families with children ages birth to three, the EHS program added over two dozen staff to the agency and a new office location on Healy Drive. And the roof was replaced on the buildings at the Sarah Y. Austin Child Development Center campus.
In 2015 Family Services became one of the first recipients of a Great Expectations grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. The two-year, $165,000 grant supports the Forsyth County School Readiness project in which staff from the Family Solutions and Child Development divisions are collaborating to provide training and coaching in classroom management methods for teachers and mental health services for children in seven of our Head Start classrooms.
2015 witnessed the largest single gift ever made to the agency – a $900,000 bequest by Sarah Austin, whose forty-year career with Family Services included serving as the agency’s President and CEO from 1985 to 1995. Her generous give puts the agency on a solid financial footing and affords us greater flexibility for responding proactively to community needs in the future.
As the United Way announced shifts in its priorities, 2015 held uncertainties about the future of United Way funding for agency programs. In July we applied for funding for seven programs. In October we learned that funding for Counseling, Ways to Work, the Shelter, and the Child Advocacy Center would remain at or near current levels of funding. Unfortunately, United Way funding for Time Out and Community Education was eliminated.
2016 brings new challenges and opportunities.
We are challenged to find new sources of support for our Time Out and Community Education programs. In February a proposal will be submitted to two local foundations to fund a new, community-wide Family Violence Prevention Initiative. And we are pursuing opportunities for expanding the Strong Fathers program.
We are in the process of securing funding for an innovative collaborative called the Family Success Collaborative (FSC). The FSC will bring together the resources of our three program divisions along with the services of Goodwill, Financial Pathways, Imprints, and Habitat for Humanity to serve families in our Head Start program and families living in the Boston-Thurmond neighborhood. The United Way has approved $266,000 in funding for the FSC. We are confident of obtaining the remaining $350,000 needed to implement the FSC from local foundations. With these funds secured, the FSC will begin in July 2016.
2016 will also bear the fruits of our efforts to increase unrestricted financial support for the agency. Our Annual Campaign Committee and Development Division staff have worked hard throughout 2015 to solicit contributions to the agency. By the end of the year the number of members of the Grogan Society (donors contributing $1,000 or more) had more than tripled, from eight to 29. We expect that momentum to continue into 2016.
In the year ahead Family Services will continue to build on the position we have occupied during most of our 110 years – standing at the forefront of providing innovative, high-quality services to families, children, and individuals while convening and working together with other organizations to address systemic social problems that affect the entire community. Thanks to all our supporters, staff, and volunteers for the many accomplishments of the past year. We look forward to 2016 with the expectation of continued progress toward ensuring that all families and children are safe, secure, and able to reach their full potential.