Consider a short list of recent “social problems” making headlines and trending social media: domestic violence, child abuse, rampaging gangs of teens indiscriminately attacking citizens, and a heroin epidemic wreaking havoc and devastation across the country. These problems are not new and society has many more just like them. I have been in social services for almost 30 years, from the front lines to management. I have been in many meetings where these and similar problems have been a focus. On its face these problems are huge and they can appear to be insurmountable; they are huge, but not insurmountable. Every problem has solutions; the task is to find them. One thing central to all these problems is family. Together we can solve these problems, one person and one family at a time because we believe Families Matter!
Please allow me to introduce a new addition to the social service landscape– Families Matter, Inc. Our mission is to help families solve problems. We don’t provide counseling, treatment, or traditional therapy, we provide a new service; problem solving. Our chief product or service is Strategic Problem Solving (SPS); Solutions with a plan.
From a clinical perspective SPS is a brief solution oriented cognitive behavioral technique that is effective, inexpensive, and accessible; and without the stigma often generated by other forms of treatment or therapy. Our basic premise is that everybody has problems and every problem has solutions; we ask the question, what do you want to do about yours? Working with our clients we help provide information, options, guidance, and direction and then help develop a plan to bring about resolution! That’s our elevator message, but Families Matter is much, much more. Our vision involves a larger presence, and we will attain it because true to our formula, we have a plan.
The Families Matter Plan
Our services operate under the principal of giving a person a fish, they eat for a day; teach a person to fish and they will eat for a lifetime. Teaching a person how to solve problems provides them a critical life skill they can use in a large variety of situations. Our programming uses SPS tailored for specific populations to address specific problems. Family Day Camp was our first program and it was developed as an alternative to detention for youth and families involved or at risk for involvement with the juvenile court system.
Family Day Camp (FDC) started in 2011 and we continue providing families with a one of a kind service to help improve or repair relationships between parents and teens. We have expanded FDC from parents and teens to include couples dealing with their own relationship issues that may or may not include domestic violence and/or child abuse. SPS helps determine what the problem is and helps generate potential solutions, we then work with the family to develop a plan to resolve the problems. That is our basic formula. The program section of our website lists our current programs which all use SPS.
For clients we provide tools and a plan for success, for referral sources we provide a measure for accountability. The criteria for success is tied to consumer satisfaction, satisfaction from both clients and the referrals sources that send them to us. Obviously there will be other criteria established depending upon the program and expected outcomes but we begin with ensuring the clients and referral sources recognize a benefit from the program and a plan to establish accountability.
We will help one family at a time but there are a lot of families and we need help! We use problem solving as a point of entry, providing a triage level of care into the community continuum of care.. To achieve our vision we offer low cost continuing education to teach SPS to providers within the continuum, so we can all be “on the same page”. To achieve that we will make sure that accurate information is made available to the general public, so they can make informed decisions.
As I said earlier I have been working within the mental health, social services realm for almost 30 years, one thing that has struck me is the lack of consensus on some basic concepts and language. Recently in a meeting of agency professionals formed as a coalition to combat chemical dependency and substance abuse in the community there was sharp disagreement about what chemical dependency actually is, the very condition we were formed to address? One disagreement was about whether it was a disease or not. I don’t image medical professionals have much disagreement about diabetes or Huntington Disease for instance. When a person goes to the doctor and they are diagnosed, they follow an established treatment protocol to treat or maintain their condition. In the CD world there is no such generally agreed upon treatment protocols and we feel that hinders Jane and Jamal Q. Public from not only seeking help but causes confusion because they don’t know who to seek help from when they decide to.
We utilize a well-established workforce of providers already working in the field. In the course of training people we will find those that are looking for part-time income to supplement their full time work. Our focus is on improving providers and making SPS training a basic for any professional entering the social service field.
A key to our success is not relying on grants and other budgetary sources of income that are contingent on often shifting priorities. Our chief income is training; it is required from most people working in the social service, mental healthcare system and we are focused on providing it at a reasonable rate. Our goal is volume which requires the training be affordable. The training is the first step towards being able to offer the services we provide and our next step is to make our programs available for replication. Fidelity centers around ensuring providers possess a uniform knowledge and understanding of language and concepts and how to make application for specific programs.
Once we build and establish Families Matter in our community we will move on to the next community!
We admit this is an ambitious plan but firmly believe it is achievable. This is my initial blog and I welcome your feedback as we continue on our journey to establish Families Matter first in Northern Kentucky and then our path of growth; one community at a time!