Center for Family Strengthening is dedicated to strengthening families through education and advocacy. The center partners with family support organizations in San Luis Obispo County to provide resources to families in need, protect children from abuse and neglect, and ensure that strong families are a community priority.

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  • CFS and The LINK: Working Together To Do More for the Community

    Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) and The LINK Family Resource Center now work closely together to provide enhanced community services and resources to improve life for overburdened families. This collaboration creates an integrated… Read more…

  • The Success of Nurse-Family Partnership

    SLO County’s Amazing Hero-Nurses for First-Time Moms The Nurse-Family Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (NFP), is a tremendously successful maternal and childhood health programs for low-income first-time mothers. As a national… Read more…

  • CFS Promotes Staff Member

    Center for Family Strengthening promotes Erica Ruvalcaba-Heredia to Director of Promotores Collaborative. “We are thrilled with Erica’s accomplishments in driving the growth and success of Promotores Collaborative,” said Lisa Fraser,… Read more…

  • CFS Welcomes New Program Coordinator

    Gwendolyn Garcia has joined Center for Family Strengthening as Program Coordinator for CFS’ major programs: Parent Connection, Kidz Tool Box for personal safety, Promotores Collaborative, Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition and… Read more…

  • CFS moves to new location

    Center for Family Strengthening has moved its corporate headquarters to 3480 South Higuera, Suite 100, San Luis Obispo. Affiliate agency ALPHA Pregnancy and Parenting Support is also moving its corporate… Read more…

News

CFS and The LINK: Working Together To Do More for the Community

Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) and The LINK Family Resource Center now work closely together to provide enhanced community services and resources to improve life for overburdened families. This collaboration creates an integrated service system that is accessible and responsive to the needs of our SLO County Community. Both organizations utilize an evidence-based approach and programs that produce highly positive results.

Lisa Fraser serves as the Executive Director of both organizations, making this integration of enhanced services possible and highly cost effective. Administrative and financial responsibilities are combined to be more effective while reducing the overhead of both organizations. Each organization continues to operate with its Board of Directors providing continuity of purpose.

The LINK Family Resource Center is the first line of community-based response to children and their families in need as identified by our public schools. The LINK contracts with schools and the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education to provide trained Family Advocates. Through providing access to resources and helping navigate systems the Advocates ensure families get what they need to raise healthy, thriving children. Link Family Advocates understand the developmental needs of young people and the resources children need to succeed in school.

The LINK Family Advocates access Center for Family Strengthening’s broad base of support programs, Parent ConnectionKidz Toolbox for Personal Safety,Promotores Collaborative of San Luis Obispo CountyDental Care for Kids, and Postpartum Depression Support Services to connect families to these effective resources. 

Staff from CFS and The LINK receive ongoing specialized training provided by Strategies 2.0, an initiative funded by the California Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP). OCAP selected Center for Family Strengthening to facilitate the Southern California Learning Community. The LINK Family Advocates, CFS staff and many family serving professionals benefit from the Learning Community network that shares best practices, develops leadership capacity and enhances collaborative approaches for creating healthy families and communities. 

CFS and The Link share in the common core language of strengthening families and build protective factors that lead to family health and well-being. Both organizations practice a strengths-based approach, which reinforces parenting skills, increases knowledge of child development stages, and ultimately protects children from neglect and maltreatment behaviors.

The Success of Nurse-Family Partnership


SLO County’s Amazing Hero-Nurses for First-Time Moms

The Nurse-Family Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (NFP), is a tremendously successful maternal and childhood health programs for low-income first-time mothers. As a national evidence-based program, it provides first-time moms with mentoring, emotional and practical support throughout their pregnancy and until their babies reach two years of age. The Center for Family Strengthening is the community advisory board to NFP. The program has a big reason to celebrate, thanks to five dedicated and compassionate nurses: Melissa Lovett-Adair, Jamie Peterson, Nancy Goldsmith, Nakia Wheeler and Carol Martin (the supervisor). Each has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and has earned a Certificate in Public Health. Public health training includes a myriad of tools: medical care, social work, parenting skills, coping skills, confidence-building, safety, family dynamics, and career and dietary training. Some nurses have also earned a Master’s Degree in Nursing, Public Health or other related fields like Psychology or Sociology. All have also spent several years in a hospital working with patients.

Nancy Goldsmith, Jamie Peterson, Carol Martin, Melissa Lovett-Adair, Nakia Wheeler, & Cherie Fields

The nurses become “true life coaches” and a consistent force in the lives of the mothers. They draw from their highly technical training as well as their life challenges including motherhood, facing adversity and building resilience in their own lives. They win their client’s trust by being non-judgmental, showing warmth and compassion, and being forthright and honest. Since the nurses don’t know what to expect when they first enter a home, each must assess the situation and use the palette of all their training and education as well as their life experience to help these new mothers.

First-time mothers are referred to the program through WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), their doctor, obstetricians, pediatricians, hospitals, community clinics, or they can directly contact the Nurse-Family Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (NFP). The only program requirements are low-income and first pregnancy before 28 weeks. The nurses each work with a caseload of 25 Moms, scheduling in-home consultations either weekly or bi-weekly based on the needs of the mother. Consultations are customized to achieve the goal of maintaining a healthy pregnancy and also achieving the mother’s aspirations and goals for her baby and their future life.

Peterson said, “All moms when experiencing their first pregnancy are at a unique and critical developmental stage in their life. The biological changes brought about by pregnancy, present the mom-to-be with a unique recognition and emotional understanding and acceptance that she is being given an opportunity for a fresh start, an exciting opportunity to create a wonderful change in her life and her baby’s life. Every mom-to-be wants a better life for their child than they had for themselves.”

“Many moms do not have a good support system,” said Wheeler. “We support them by listening, establishing a relationship based on trust, and helping them achieve their goals. I often hear moms say ‘I want better for my children’; as public health nurses, we can help them decide what ‘better’ looks like and how to get there.”

Most of the mothers coming into the program range in age from 14–40. Some have other risk factors including intimate partner violence or substance abuse. Some have low self-esteem and lack parenting skills and knowledge of child development. A few may be homeless. Some have bachelor’s degrees while others are still in high school. No one characteristic defines them or applies to all. What is amazing is that these mothers can sense and grasp that they are at a point in life where with the guidance of their nurse, they can truly build a much better life. Nearly 96% succeed in bringing a healthy baby and better life into our community.

Working as a public health nurse with mothers in their home is very different than working in the controlled environment of a hospital. As Peterson put it, “You are alone out there and need to be comfortable in your skin with the right attitude. To be invited in and invited back you need to earn the mom’s respect.”

All progress to goals is acknowledged and celebrated. For example, with Peterson’s help, one 19-year-old mother burdened with low self-esteem and dependent on a controlling partner, managed to rethink her choices and leave her partner. The mother researched opening her own business and today has her own taco restaurant. Another mother, who achieved an engineering degree in Mexico, came to the United States with her husband and could not find work. She did not speak English. She has the determination to support her family and created income by cooking for migrant farm workers.

Positive outcomes are higher than in other health managed programs. Ninety percent of the women who start the program complete the entire program. Seventeen percent of the women in the program without a high school diploma or GED returned to school by 12 months postpartum. Seventy-seven percent of clients are working at 24 months. Positive outcomes for the babies are phenomenal: 92.4 percent of the babies reach full term, 93.1 percent are born at a healthy weight, and 96.7 percent of the babies receive breast milk.

Each nurse in the program has a unique view about the benefits of the program.

Goldsmith believes having a child is an amazing gift and it is an incredible blessing to have the opportunity as a parent to guide, encourage and love your child. Guidance from an NFP nurse provides a valuable opportunity to change negative behaviors and break cycles. It gives parents positive alternatives for encouraging and promoting their child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Goldsmith supports and recognizes the value of preventative health care and also emphasizes that self-care is a very vital and important aspect of parenting. She sees the work as an NFP home visitor as a very challenging, comprehensive and rewarding aspect of nursing. She is very touched to hear from and see clients that have graduated from the program who are thriving and accomplishing much.

Peterson and Wheeler agree that the career is both challenging and extremely rewarding. They are thrilled to see their clients make progress.

Martin adds that the nurses give mothers hope that they can succeed and always looks for something positive in mothers’ interactions with their babies. Martin provides positive feedback and encourages them to talk and play with their baby as much possible. Martin is delighted when she runs into her clients years later and finds that mothers and children are doing so well.

Lovett-Adair focuses on bringing out the best in clients and celebrating their strengths and teaches mothers to manage a child’s behavior in a loving, healthy way. “It’s about empowering moms to learn ways to take care of themselves. The NFP career is a great opportunity to have a positive impact on people’s lives. You never forget them. It’s a privilege to support women making changes in their lives.”

All the NFP nurses agree it would be wonderful to have this program for all first-time mothers. NFP nurses are truly hero-nurses for SLO county first-time mothers.

San Luis Obispo County is currently hiring nurses for other departments. For more information about NFP visit the program website.

 

CFS Promotes Staff Member

Center for Family Strengthening promotes Erica Ruvalcaba-Heredia to Director of Promotores Collaborative. “We are thrilled with Erica’s accomplishments in driving the growth and success of Promotores Collaborative,” said Lisa Fraser, Executive Director of Center for Family Strengthening. “Her leadership, planning, and execution of “Promotores Collaborative” are having a transformational impact on our Spanish-speaking Community.”

Ruvalcaba-Heredia is a graduate of the University of Santa Barbara and earned her Master’s Degree in Spanish and BA in Spanish and Latino and Iberian Studies. She holds a PhEd in Organizational Leadership from the University of Laverne.

Promotores Collaborative,” of San Luis Obispo County is an emerging prevention and health education model that works for the Latino community with neighbor-to-neighbor outreach activities. This promising and novel program, introduced by Center for Family Strengthening (CFS), is rapidly changing our Spanish-speaking Community from within to achieve greater and greater success. Organized and trained volunteer Latinos within the neighborhood are providing a path for other Latinos in the neighborhood to thrive.

Promotores volunteers reach into the Latino neighborhoods to recruit, organize and train networks of Spanish-speaking volunteers who introduce Latinos to important beneficial services to build healthy communities. Through Promotores, the Latino Community, neighborhood by neighborhood, is learning essential life skills. Promotores provides Latinos access to healthy foods, nutritional education, emotional support, access to mental health resources such as substance abuse and domestic violence programs, medical and dental care access, and programs tailored to child development, effective parenting and education.

About Center for Family Strengthening (formerly SLO-CAP): In 1988 the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors designated Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) as the self-governing entity responsible for local efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Center for Family Strengthening is dedicated to strengthening families through education and advocacy. Center for Family Strengthening partners with family support organizations in SLO County to provide resources to families in need, protect children from abuse and neglect, and ensure that strong families are a community priority. To donate or learn more about Center for Family Strengthening go to www.cfsslo.org or call (805) 543-6216.

CFS Welcomes New Program Coordinator

Gwendolyn Garcia has joined Center for Family Strengthening as Program Coordinator for CFS’ major programs: Parent Connection, Kidz Tool Box for personal safety, Promotores Collaborative, Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition and Postpartum Depression Support Services.

Garcia graduated from California Polytechnic University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Child Development and a minor in Psychology and also holds an Associate Degree in Early Child Development and Behavioral Sciences.

Impressively, while completing her studies at Cal Poly, she received training through Active Parenting and Positive Discipline. She worked as an“early childhood educator” at Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo, served as Assistant Director at the Shepard Christian Preschool and was a co-teacher working with pre-schoolers at the County Office of Education in Paso Robles and Shandon.

We are thrilled to have Gwen as an addition to our team,” said Lisa Fraser, Executive Director of Center for Family Strengthening. “Gwen’s education, experience, her enthusiasm in working with preschoolers and her ability to create supportive environments for children and families substantially enhance our efforts in strengthening families and preventing abuse and neglect in children.

Center for Family Strengthening is a SLO-based non-profit agency dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect through by building stronger families and supporting them with a myriad of programs.

Through its Parent Connection, Center for Family Strengthening offers parenting skills classes and coaching skills, and manages the Postpartum Depression Support Line and support services. Through Kidz Toolbox for Personal Safety, CFS teaches child protective and safety skills. CFS’ Beginnings program offers prenatal substance use awareness. CFS also educates the San Luis Obispo Community at large about child abuse reporting laws. Promotores Collaborative is a volunteer team of Spanish-speaking members who connect to families in need. CFS works with Public Health Programs to make dental care accessible to the thousands of children in this San Luis Obispo County who do not qualify for Medical. The Central Coast Breast Feeding Coalition brings together a collaborative team of breastfeeding advocates to network, share resources, accomplish projects and provide breastfeeding education based on current research and best practice. To provide families high-quality services and opportunities to thrive, CFS also partners with 14 county-wide Family Resource Centers.

About Center for Family Strengthening (formerly SLO-CAP): In 1988 the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors designated Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) as the self-governing entity responsible for local efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Center for Family Strengthening is dedicated to strengthening families through education and advocacy. Center for Family Strengthening partners with family support organizations in SLO County to provide resources to families in need, protect children from abuse and neglect, and ensure that strong families are a community priority. To donate or learn more about Center for Family Strengthening go to www.cfsslo.org or call (805) 543-6216.

CFS moves to new location

Center for Family Strengthening has moved its corporate headquarters to 3480 South Higuera, Suite 100, San Luis Obispo. Affiliate agency ALPHA Pregnancy and Parenting Support is also moving its corporate headquarters and will co-locate with Center for Family Strengthening.

We’re pleased to share corporate offices with ALPHA,” said Lisa Fraser, executive director of Center for Family Strengthening. “We’re able to provide additional services to ALPHA’s Clients when needed and share in administrative expenses where possible.”

Center for Family Strengthening is an SLO-based non-profit agency dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect through by building stronger families and supporting them with a myriad of programs.

Through its Parent Connection, Center for Family Strengthening offers parenting skills classes and coaching skills, and manages the Postpartum Depression Support Line and support services. Through Kidz Toolbox for Personal Safety, CFS teaches child protective and safety skills. CFS’ Beginnings program offers prenatal substance use awareness. CFS also educates the San Luis Obispo Community at large about child abuse reporting laws. Promotores Collaborative is a volunteer team of Spanish-speaking members who connect to families in need. CFS works with Public Health Programs to make dental care accessible to the thousands of children in this San Luis Obispo County who do not qualify for Medical. The Central Coast Breast Feeding Coalition brings together a collaborative team of breastfeeding advocates to network, share resources, accomplish projects and provide breastfeeding education based on current research and best practice. To provide families high-quality services and opportunities to thrive, CFS also partners with 14 county-wide Family Resource Centers.

Ron Huxley, Family Healer and Therapeutic Parent Coach, featured guest speaker at the recent Child Abuse Prevention Academy at Cuesta College, described how abusive emotional childhood experiences could so negatively affect a young child resulting in underdeveloped social and emotional skills as well as negative impacts on our society as a whole.

According to experts, child abuse is preventable by strengthening families and fostering the healthy development of children. Working with the Community, CFS prevents child abuse by offering programs that make systemic changes in lives of families. A community that cares about early childhood development, parental support, and maternal mental health will foster nurturing families and healthy children.

Child abuse and neglect are found in families across the social and economic spectrum. Social isolation, financial stress, poverty, substance abuse, and domestic violence are all factors that can lead to adults abusing children.

About Center for Family Strengthening (formerly SLO-CAP)

In 1988 the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors designated Center for Family Strengthening (CFS) as the self-governing entity responsible for local efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Center for Family Strengthening is dedicated to strengthening families through education and advocacy. Center for Family Strengthening partners with family support organizations in SLO County to provide resources to families in need, protect children from abuse and neglect, and ensure that strong families are a community priority.

To donate or learn more about Center for Family Strengthening go to www.cfsslo.org or call (805) 543-6216.

About Alpha Pregnancy and Parenting Support

Alpha provides support, practical assistance during pregnancy through a child’s second year, and education on pregnancy and early parenting throughout San Luis Obispo County.

To donate or learn more about Alpha Pregnancy and Parenting Support go to www.sloalpha.org or call (805) 541-3367

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