The Duke Endowment has awarded a $184,000 grant to support the Success Coach program at Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina.
“Our goal is to support families once reunification occurs,” said Chief Operations Officer Mike Garrell. “This can be the family of origin, grandparents, close kin or an adoptive family. In addition to benefiting the children leaving foster or state care, training is aiding the parents/caregivers with whom the child is re-bonding.”
Family reunification programs are widely recognized as a way to prevent foster care re-entry and strengthen all participating families, yet there are only eight similar programs across the United States.
“With the Success Coach program, we provide guidance, resources and coaching to the permanent family to help them meet their family’s needs and to achieve permanency,” said Chief Program Officer Donna Yalch. “We coach and connect the family to the resources needed to create a home environment that keeps the family together.”
The B&GH program is modeled after Catawba County’s Success Coach Program.
“We provide an array of free voluntary services to children and their families when they leave temporary homes for permanent placement,” said Success Coach Director Ashlynn Campbell. “This program builds stronger families as we coach the parents, siblings and the returning child on how to normalize relationships and behavior while also supporting the practical activities of attending medical appointments, transporting to events, and finding counseling and other services to assist the family transition to permanence.”
In addition to the funds provided by The Duke Endowment, the Cape Fear Memorial Foundation is providing support for additional training, staffing and transportation.
“We had our first family in January 2020,” said Campbell. “Like so many programs, COVID-19 has affected our program as referrals were reduced by a shutting down of the family court system.”
Although the number of referrals was below anticipated due to this shut down, the families already in the program continued to receive support throughout the pandemic.
“The virus has increased the intensity of needs and workload related to the families we are serving,” Campbell said. “We are in contact with reunification families on a daily basis and our Success Coaches have responded to family needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week since implementation.”
As the world has begun to reopen, the need for an expansion of the Success Coach services has become clearer.
“We have started getting requests from DSS agencies to help families struggling to remain together,” said Campbell. “We accelerated our plan and hired Alexis Hawkins as a Prevention Worker. Alexis focuses on those families at risk of having their children enter the DSS system due to family issues using the same basic skills and programs our Success Coaches use.”
With both aspects of the program, the expectation is to help 60 to 80 families find permanence each year.
“I am excited to see how this program continues to transform families in our broader community,” said B&GH President Ricky Creech. “This is just one way we are helping to provide health, healing and hope for all who come through our doors.”