Five years ago, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Kimberly-Clark Corporation launched an initiative to expand and redefine family strengthening throughout the Boys & Girls Club movement. The idea was that young people have better chances for success when the concepts practiced in the Club are reinforced at home.
To that end, BGCA and Kimberly-Clark developed a national strategy – Family PLUS (Parents Leading, Uniting, Serving) – to help Clubs build relationships with community agencies and other entities that help ensure that families in need have the opportunities, networks and assistance to realize their children’s aspirations; and to involve parents and caregivers in the planning and implementation of the programming in their children’s Clubs.
There’ shared passion by Kimberly-Clark and BGCA for the health and well-being of families. Through the Family PLUS initiative, we have been able to not only provide many Clubs with a source of funding for their family strengthening efforts, but, more importantly, to provide all Clubs with the tools, resources and strategies to start or expand such programs and services.
Family PLUS has become a vital aspect of BGCA’s five-year strategic plan, IMPACT 2012. Family Strengthening programming offers Clubs important avenues for addressing all three of IMPACT 2012’s key elements: academic success, character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. Today, Clubs are providing parenting classes, opportunities for fathers and non-custodial parents to increase their involvement in the lives of their children, workshops in employment strategies, and classes in nutrition and healthy living; they’re linking caregivers with counseling and other resources; providing emergency financial assistance to families that need help to pay bills, buy groceries or find affordable housing; and creating parent advisory boards who help design programs and services uniquely suited to the needs of each Club’s membership.
The Family PLUS strategy has really changed the way Clubs think about family support. Family Strengthening components are now integrated into other programming developed by BGCA at the national level, and Clubs are encouraged to think about how to include and support parents and caregivers in all of their offerings, as well. What’s more, the number of Clubs reporting that they offer family support services has ballooned – from 348 Clubs in 2006 to 1,537 in 2009.
What has also grown during the five-year period spanned by the Family PLUS partnership are the countless stories of successes great and small – like the journey of Angel Torres, a non-custodial father who, through involvement with BGC of McAllen, Tex., was able to re-establish a relationship with his daughter; or the single mother, unable to afford family outings, who found a place to spend quality time with her son in the West Philadelphia BGC; or the 250 families supplied with Thanksgiving turkeys at BGC of Pawtucket, R.I. – unfolding in Clubs across the country and on military bases around the world. Through stories like these, it’s possible to catch small glimpses of the big things that have been happening for families in Boys & Girls Clubs over the life of the five-year Family PLUS partnership. Read some our success stories on the top right and please come back for more.