Millage Awardees Profile - Family Futures
Family Futures of Grand Rapids is part of the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage outreach and navigation network.
Family Futures works to shape communities in which all children achieve their full potential. The organization focuses on children under age five and works with parents to help them understand their child’s development, supporting them every step of the way and connecting them to resources when needed.
They provide just-in-time information to empower parents to be the best they can be. The Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage funding will allow critical supports and services to be brought to scale to serve the youngest members of our community. Support from Ready by Five will make it possible for even more families to be served with a focus on connecting them to the services that fit their needs. Family Futures has two programs that focus on supporting families with young children: Connections and Healthy Families.
- Connections provides the peace of mind of knowing how your child is doing developmentally and what to expect. This is done by mailing timely developmental and parenting information to families. Age-appropriate child development information and questionnaires can be received in the mail or completed on-line. Upon completion by parents, they receive the results and feedback on their child’s progress, as well as what to expect as their child grows – up to five years of age. If parents have any questions or concerns or the questionnaires indicate an issue, parent coaches will reach out to them by phone to help address the issues. Connections also makes it possible to help families make sure other people supporting their children’s health and well-being are in the loop. With parents’ permission, Connections can automatically send the results of the screenings to their child’s doctor and/or child care provider. They provide parent coaching to address the concerns and when needed connect families with additional resources in our community.
- Healthy Families offers frequent home visits with a family support worker in the comfort of their own home. Families who want or need this more intensive face-to-face support can enroll before their child is born or until their child is three months old. The home visits continue until their child’s third birthday. This service is provided in partnership with Arbor Circle and Catholic Charities of West Michigan.
“We are so excited about what this millage means for young children and their families throughout Kent County,” said Candace Cowling, Executive Director Family Futures. “We at Family Futures, are excited to partner with Ready by Five and other community organizations to help families with children under five navigate the resources available to them. When children do well, our community does better and we all succeed.”
Here is just one example of how Family Futures helped one Kent County family find their way. When Family Futures connected with Jennifer and Brian, they were stressed, worried and feeling lost about their son, Cohen. He slept a lot, couldn’t walk or talk well and just didn’t seem like he was on track with other kids his age. Just as they feared, their first screening of Cohen showed he was delayed in all areas of development. Family Futures connected Jennifer and Brian’s family with Early On for in-home services for Cohen. Within a few weeks of support, Cohen was walking. With continued support for him and his parents throughout the year, at age three he was enrolled in preschool and entirely on track. The navigational support from Family Futures and our community partners ensured Cohen and his family could thrive.
By walking alongside families, Family Futures helps ensure they get the support and information they need every step of the way. Healthy families, connected to resources and supports in the community, are more able to give back that support and play their part in contributing to a more vibrant and successful community.