Strategies for Strengthening At-Risk and Underserved Families
By Carlis V. Williams serves as the Southeast Regional Administrator, Region IV, Atlanta, Georgia
The Southeast Regional Office of the Administration for Children and Families in Atlanta, is aggressively promoting ACF’s national vision to make a positive difference in the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable children and families. To accomplish this we are hosting and participating in conferences and forums designed to showcase and promote current research, evidenced-based programs and best practices proven to maximize positive outcomes. Let me ention two recent examples:
- ACF hosted a Hispanic Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Strengthening Families Forum on May 21-22, at the University of Miami. Approximately 40 people participated. The forum explored emerging research on the Hispanic family experience and examined the research and existing strategies for sustaining and strengthening Hispanic families, marriages and responsible fatherhood. The forum theme, “A Conversation: Connecting, Educating and Networking with Communities,” set the tone and motivated participants to consider and implement more corporate, connected, community-centered strategies to strengthen families. ACF will follow up on the connections made at this forum, the possibilities for new networks, and ideas that were explored for possible collaborative projects.
Region IV planned and carried out the Research to Practice Policy Forum – Forging Partnerships to Support Family Resilience: A Call to Action on May 23 at Georgia State University. This forum was sponsored in partnership with Georgia State University/School of Social Work/Andrew Young School of Public Studies, Morehouse School of Medicine and the University of Georgia/School of Social Work. This forum engaged researchers, practitioners and policy advocates in discussion around emerging social issues and challenges facing low-wealth, underserved and un-served families. Leading scholars and practitioners showcased best practices and the latest research aimed at improving the wellbeing and self-sufficiency of families. The sessions addressed strategies, outcomes and research on:
- Accessing Jobs for High Risk Populations
- Exploring the Impact of Fatherhood and Healthy Marriage/Relationship Programs
- Understanding the Needs of the Hispanic/Latino Community
- Examining the School to Prison Pipeline
Participants discussed the gaps in research, service and policy implications, and suggested recommendations for actions. Forum outcomes included empowerment of local practitioners to incorporate innovative and effective strategies into their programs, and assistance to researchers in identifying areas meriting future research. Over 130 stakeholders were in attendance. A proceedings document is forthcoming.
We must act boldly and wisely. We must seek out innovative evidence-based solutions in promoting Healthy Marriages and Responsible Fatherhood strategies. Though at times the land may seem barren, we must continue to plant new seeds, to water the young ideas and innovations that emerge, and to harvest the fruits of more effective outcomes for the un-served and underserved families of our society.
Carlis V. Williams serves as the Southeast Regional Administrator, Region IV, Atlanta, Georgia. The Southeast Region includes 8 states: Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Mississippi and Florida. Carlis provides executive leadership, coordination and direction for ACF human service programs that include Head Start, Child Welfare, Foster Care, Adoption, Child Care, Developmental Disabilities, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Child Support, and Runaway and Homeless Youth.