DePelchin Children’s Center opened its Family Resource Center (FRC) in late January 2022 inside of the Spring Branch Family Development Center (SBFDC).
Although it serves the wider Houston Area, DePelchin chose to target Spring Branch because of its high population of low-income, immigrant families.
In addition to a Boys and Girls Club, there is also a Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clinic housed inside of the SBFDC. Parents and families spend time in the facility for several reasons and DePelchin staff take that opportunity to welcome people into the FRC.
“It lets people know that they can just come on over and talk to us. It’s very casual from the beginning,” said Charity Eames, Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) Director at DePelchin.
The DePelchin FRC provides case management and training, and partners with community organizations to connect families with resources. The center’s toy library and a partnership with Books Between Kids allows children to borrow toys and books their parents may not be able to afford. The FRC also provides curriculum and training to parents on financial literacy, budgeting, and parenting.
For in-depth services, families can be referred to DePelchin’s other programs, such as family counseling, in-home intensive parenting help, fatherhood involvement, and co-parenting courses.
Julie Hetrick, DePelchin’s Vice President of PEI services says, “We have a variety of next-level services that we can refer into as needed.”
“We have a spectrum of services, and a family might come in with one presenting issue, but we’ll find out that they actually have more needs, and we are able to offer services that meet those needs,” she continued.
One special development in the short life of the FRC has been the hiring of two Parent Support Specialists. These specialists are parents who have been through the services and are now working part-time to recruit clients in the community.
“These are parents who are able to relate to the parents and families that we’re looking to target… and then actually talk to them about what it’s like to be in services and what their successes were when they received services, so that there’s a more realistic and warmer handoff,” Hetrick said.
Because the families are not necessarily required to receive their services, they partner with the community to seek out families that could benefit. For example, service providers such as doctors and counselors refer families to DePelchin to help meet additional needs. In fact, most referrals the FRC receives are from those community partners.
Eames suggests that this model allows for intervention before the needs are dire.
“When we’re really looking at prevention, we need to catch families when they have these more minor issues than when they are coming to us in crisis,” Eames said.
In looking to the future, DePelchin hopes to learn from what has and has not worked at the Spring Branch location and then branch out into other areas of the community. The intention is to continue partnering with community centers and other community partners and replicate the success of partnerships such as those with the SBFDC ad the Boys and Girls Club.
“Families are coming back because it’s feeling like a safe place for them,” Eames said.