May is National Foster Care month, which was created to not only highlight the children in care and the need for foster parents, but also to celebrate the dedication of the families and the workers who support them. Staff, kids and families all across the regions celebrated National Foster Care Day by wearing blue. One of our WV foster parents commented, "This team is awesome. They do an amazing job guiding and helping foster homes. They truly do love their jobs and have hearts of gold to give these kids a loving home. Proud to belong to such an amazing company!"
The Johnstown families could not be more thankful to The Penguins Foundation for providing VIP seats, snacks, and a visit from Iceburgh. This once in a lifetime trip was made even better with a 5-2 Win for the Pens!
HAMILTON, OH – The Pressley Ridge Family Preservation Program (FPP) here in Butler County recently completed a “Family Tracer” that demonstrated what program staff and leadership might have already suspected: Pressley Ridge families greatly appreciate their partnership with our organization and the hard work that is done on their behalf.
The Family Tracer is a new endeavor at Pressley Ridge that was developed by the Organizational Performance department to assess our family engagement efforts and inform leadership of the findings, in order to better align organizational practices with our strategic initiatives. How is this done?
A Family Tracer assessment is conducted via a site visit to a program by a team of reviewers. The goal is to review and rate evidence of family engagement, based on current practices. The data collection procedures include chart reviews, review of program materials and handouts, and semi-structured interviews or focus groups with staff, individuals in services, and family members. The physical environment of the program site is also rated.
Getting back their lives
In Butler County, located outside of Cincinnati, perhaps the most telling piece of the Tracer was the focus group interview. A group of eight caretakers – biological parents, grandparents and foster parents – participated in a conversation that was scheduled to last an hour but ran over because of the enthusiasm of the participants.
The gratitude these parents and caretakers expressed for their Pressley Ridge service providers was humbling and heartwarming. They provided one example after another of Pressley clinicians providing tireless, competent support, helping families one day at time. “It’s so wonderful to have support when you find it,” said one person. Another simply said: “Pressley Ridge gave me my life back.”
More than one person said that, whenever possible, they don’t use any service provider other than Pressley Ridge. There was a consensus not only about the superiority of existing Pressley Ridge services; when asked to think about what their area needed to enhance the quality of life, the answer was unanimous: more Pressley Ridge services.
How do we know that this wasn’t a case of a few appreciative clients skewing the outcome? For one thing, the Family Tracer’s validity is dependent on data from a variety of sources, not just satisfied customers; for example, there was a chart review of randomly selected files and a review of program materials, which measured current practice, not planned or intended behavior. This data supported what the parents and caretakers said – that the program is very engaged with families.
Butler County’s Family Preservation Program used to be run in-house by Children’s Services (BCCS) but was discontinued in 2011 due to budgetary issues. When it was decided last year to bring the program back through outside providers, Pressley Ridge won the contract. The county’s response to the job Pressley Ridge is doing presents further evidence of the program’s effectiveness.
BCCS Director Bill Morrison told a local newspaper that choosing Pressley Ridge was the best decision the county could have made. Pressley “hit the ground running much quicker than any other new program I’ve ever started,” he told the paper. “It immediately started affecting our practice.” Within six months of starting work, the Pressley FPP program was credited with keeping 20 children in their homes. Many more families have been helped since then.
Program supervisor Anna Robinson says, “The staff deserves all of the credit. We didn’t start slow but full force; they’ve been working hard since day one.” She praises them for coming together as a team in a short amount of time. “It’s their dedication to the program and the clients,” said Robinson. “I can’t compliment them enough.” Says Dr. Annette Trunzo, director of Organizational Performance: “Tracers give us an opportunity as an organization to determine if we are achieving the results that we want.” Butler County FPP is the first Pressley Ridge program to complete a Family Tracer in its official rollout – several programs participated in the pilot stage last year while the process was being fine-tuned.
Trunzo looks forward to more programs completing Family Tracers this year. “It’s a good peer-to-peer process that lets us step into the shoes of the persons who use the services to see how the delivery of services is experienced from their perspective.”
Continuing to expand our family engagement initiative, one of our moms worked with one of our high school classrooms to bake over 150 sugar cookies. Over 100 grandparents, parents, neighbors, and/or friends then decorated and enjoyed the cookies with our students.
Family involvement at the Day School Johnstown has grown significantly this school year. We credit this response to our Behavioral Health Educators who now visit the family of each of their students during the first nine weeks of school, as a meet and greet opportunity, and our two Home Community Educators who call, visit, and link our families to the resources they may need.
We are no longer strangers to the families we serve but now a part of their extended family. Spending time with our grandparents brought many smiles and built memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.
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