Friends of the Children's Work Along the Continuum: Front-End Prevention

DID YOU KNOW that Friends work intentionally with both youth and their caregivers?

Front-End Prevention Fast Facts:

Too often, the basic needs of children and their families – such as access to stable housing, healthy food and adequate health care – go unmet. Data has shown that this is particularly true for children and families of color who are often inadequately served by public systems because of systemic racism. While the majority of families living in poverty thankfully never come to the attention of the child welfare system, unfortunately, poverty is still the greatest predictor of child welfare involvement. As a result, young children – disproportionately children of color – come to the attention of child welfare for what is classified as "neglect" – for example, homelessness or parental stress that impacts mental health and parenting. In 2019, 63% of children entered foster care due to neglect compared to only 13% who entered due to physical abuse; one-third of those who entered were children of color.

Friends of the Children as a Front-End Prevention - aka Child Well-Being Strategy

We can improve the chances that children will thrive and that families will never come to the attention of the child welfare system when families get the right supports. Research has shown that specific conditions or characteristics, called "protective factors," increase the health and well-being of children and families. Programs that promote and enable these protective factors – things like parental resilience, concrete supports in a time of need and social connections – have been shown to reduce the likelihood that a child will end up in foster care.

For years, Friends of the Children has known that, in addition to life-changing outcomes for youth, the presence of a Friend in a child's life has multiplier effects for their parents, caregivers, siblings and communities. A 2017 study from the University of Washington, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, found that our program positively impacted whole families through knowledge and skill building, relational support for caregivers and community connections. These findings led to the codification of our two-generation (2Gen) approach.

Ultimately our goal is that parents get the supports they need to be the parents they want to be, and that kids get to be kids – living safely at home with their families.

Hear from our Chicago families about how Friends support their family's well-being: