We love to solve problems before they start
What we believe
Every child deserves to be happy, healthy and safe. We believe that starts by building strong families – and that’s what our services do, through parent coaching, developmental screening, education, home visiting and prevention-based programming. To build strong and safe families, we focus our efforts on helping parents:
- Be strong and flexible
- Find social support
- Access resources and education
- Ask for help
- Help children communicate
We believe all families, from all walks of life, can benefit from this work. And when enough families benefit, the results raise up the entire community.
Trauma & resilience
Research is showing that traumatic events in early childhood can have a lifelong impact on health and behavior. Trauma can look different for everyone, but the common causes in early childhood can include neglect, abuse, parental separation or divorce, financial instability in the family, or a parent with substance abuse or mental health issues.
When these Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) happen during a child’s early years, their rapidly developing brain can be negatively affected, leading to social, emotional and cognitive impairments. Down the line, these stressful and traumatic events that get wired into the brain can cause poor school performance, substance abuse or mental health issues.
The key to helping all children reach their highest potential? Eliminate as many ACEs as possible by educating parents on ways to build strong and resilient families. It’s what we do best and it’s the passion behind everything we do.
The power of prevention
One of our goals is to develop a trauma-informed community that fully embraces prevention. What does that mean?
Family Futures envisions a time when developmental screening is just as ingrained in the minds of parents as using a car seat has become. Where every family knows how their child is developing and has the tools and resources to encourage that growth. If you were to look in a home, a day care or a medical practice, you would see parents and the community engaging and giving their children the chance to reach their highest potential.
When parents and caregivers have the skills and support to create safe and nurturing environments, their children have a foundation from which they can thrive.
Equity is in everything we do
When we say we want all children to reach their full potential, we mean it. There are two interesting factors that shape our work in reaching all the children in our community.
One is that just because a service is available to everyone doesn’t mean it is accessible to everyone. Factors such as transportation, income, Internet access, language, literacy and cultural beliefs can quickly erode away access to a service that was intended to be helpful to everyone. That’s why we use an approach called targeted universalism as well as structural fairness models. Simply put, we are constantly targeting our approach to meet the needs of the populations we serve. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for helping children and families in West Michigan. Our parents will be met where they are at and served in a way that is most meaningful to them.
Second, research has found that ACEs are alarmingly common—even across racial, income and education demographics. Yes, some families are at higher risk. But all families can benefit from strengthened parenting skills, access to support and a listening ear, and tools to track their child’s development. That’s why our programs are available to all children under five in Kent County, and to many families in neighboring counties. There is no one “type” of family we serve. The families enrolled in our programs are as diverse as the families that make up our entire community.
Family Futures is proud to be recognized as a full partner by Partners for a Racism Free Community.
Receive regular, age-appropriate tools and screenings that let you use playtime with your child to know if everything is developing on track. If extra support or early intervention is needed, we’ll be your connection to the resources that can help you and your child thrive.
Healthy Families Kent County
Healthy Families Kent County is a support program available from pregnancy through three years old where families can get personal, in-depth support and introduction to resources. Work one-on-one with a Family Support Specialist who will meet you where you are and show you the steps to achieve your parenting goals.