The goal of Family Support Services is to break the cycle of poverty by creating an empowering environment for families that inspires families to obtain, sustain and maintain permanent housing, as well as achieve educational and career goals to bring stability to their lives. The mission of Family Support Services is to address core issues that emerge among poor, homeless and families in severe crisis due to a lack of skills required to obtain and maintain permanent housing.
Parents tell us that what they love about our program is that they get to decide what their family and personal goals are – then we work with them to meet their goals, one at a time.
Who We Serve
First Place Family Support Services focuses on families struggling with the risks and realities of trauma who have school-age children and live in the Seattle area. Our programs are designed to serve families with multiple barriers to stability. Issues facing families we serve are:
- Loss of employment
- Mental illness
- Single/absent parents
- Domestic violence/fleeing from abuser
- Substance abuse
- Former incarceration including reunification with children
- Severe health issues
Every family who comes through First Place is assigned a Case Manager as a key step in the process of transitioning to self-sufficiency. Services are provided free of charge to all of our clients.
How We Help
Family Support Services works with families who have children enrolled in First Place School, provides rental assistance to families facing eviction, meets the basic needs of families, and offers service-enriched leased transitional housing to families.
First Place provides wrap-around case management support to all families who are enrolled in one of our programs. Case management focuses on five core-competencies that individuals and families need to be self-sufficient. These are:
- Housing focuses on helping the family obtain, sustain, and maintain housing. The Case Manager can assist families in any stage of housing, such as locating shelter, transitional housing, or permanent (market rate or subsidized) housing.
- Job Readiness/Employment focuses on helping individuals become employable and maintain employment. The Case Manager helps assess employment interests and skills and connects individuals to appropriate job training/job readiness resources.
- Education/Training focuses on helping individuals meet their goals with regard to education and/or job training. The Case Manager connects the adults in the family to education and/or job training programs while also helping these adults support their children’s educational challenges and goals.
- Life Skills focuses on helping the adults become resourceful to obtain the skills needed to support their families. The Case Manager coaches families in specific life skills and also links them to outside programs focused on parenting, budgeting/money management, household management, and other daily living skills that support self-sufficiency.
- Health focuses on helping families overcome physical and/or mental disabilities. The Case Manager connects families to services dealing with nutrition, physical health, mental health, substance abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and other health issues.
The First Place Family Unification Program provides a service-enriched re-entry housing program for offenders who are parents to children under 18 years of age and who are considered high-risk due to issues related to substance abuse, mental health, dual diagnosis, physical health/disability and/or lack of viable employment options. This program addresses the three main causes of recidivism for the target population: lack of housing, lack of employment, and inability to reunify with children due to the first two factors.
Why focus on incarcerated parents? Studies show that reunification with children can provide an enormous incentive for parents to comply with the terms of their probation and subsequently avoid recidivism.
Many women in jail have been victims: one-third are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and a recent survey found that 48% of women reported a history of physical and/or sexual abuse and 27% reported rape (Gillece, 2002).
Female prisoners are also more likely than males to be parents to children under 18, to have been living with their children prior to incarceration, and to be single parents, thus leaving no parent to care for the children while the mom is incarcerated (Mumola, 2006).
Studies show that children of offenders are five times more likely than their peers to end up in prison themselves, and one in ten will have been incarcerated before reaching adulthood (Simmons, 2000).