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Family Support

Facts About FRC's

Facts About Family Resource Centers

What are family resource centers?

Family resource centers are generally located in home-like settings and serve as informal meeting places to classes, groups, and activities. Examples of offerings include support groups, parenting classes, child care, recreation, well-baby checks, and adult education classes. Programs are chosen by each community. Family service centers provide more intensive services in a "one stop shop" environment.

Where are family resource centers located?

A family resource center can be found in many different settings. Some are in community centers, some are in converted school classrooms, some are in portable buildings near schools. Each community is different, and each family resource center is unique to its community.

Oregon examples include a center in the Bethel Barn in Eugene, a converted school building in Grants Pass, shopping mall space in Klamath Falls, downtown buildings in Silverton and Drain, and school-based centers in the Portland area and Springfield. Family resource centers are emerging throughout the state.

Why have family resource centers?

Family resource centers offer a number of benefits: (1) community involvement, (2) access to activities and services, and (3) emphasis on individual and family strengths.

1. Community involvement. Each family resource center is governed by parents and community members. Decisions about programs and services are made by the people who live and work in the community–not county, state, or federal government. Thus family resource centers can build on community volunteers, energy, and resources in ways that traditional social service programs cannot.

2. Access to activities and services. Family resource centers can be a central gathering place for community activities and events. Information can be shared about recreation, early childhood programs, adult classes, and social services. Families don’t have to call multiple agencies to find out what is available to them. The person who coordinates the resource center is key–it has to be someone that family members know and trust.

3. Emphasis on individual and family strengths. Because family resource centers focus on positive activities for children and their families, they change the way that services are delivered. Instead of emphasizing programs that provide a "hand out," family resource centers involve people in ways that build their skills and sense of self. People at family resource centers are "contributors" and "participants," not "recipients" of services. Research demonstrates that these are the dynamics that change lives–instead of promoting dependency.

What results have family resource centers accomplished?

Evaluation studies of demonstration projects found the following results:

  • Children enrolled in schools with family resource centers for at least three years evidenced higher scores in mathematics and reading achievement tests than children in control schools.
  • Children participating in early childhood center programs at age 3 started kindergarten ready to learn as evidenced by scores on kindergarten screening tests.
  • Parents gave their schools higher marks for academic focus, caring and sensitivity, school-community relations, and collaborative decision-making than did parents at schools without family resource centers.


Family health and nutrition

Fetal exposure to alcohol increases the risk of language deficiency and mental retardation.1

Children of smokers lag behind their peers in cognitive development and educational achievement, and they are particularly subject to hyperactivity and inattention.1

Nutritional deficiencies can affect attention and motivational processes important for school success. Iron deficiency is prevalent among U.S. children and is associated with anemia, shortened attention span, irritability, fatigue, difficulty with concentration, and increased absorption of lead which threatens children’s brain development.2

Parent supervision and time spent with children

Three factors over which parents exercise authority–student absenteeism, variety of reading materials in the home, and excessive television watching–explain nearly 90% of the differences in 8th grade mathematics test scores across 37 states. 3

Parental involvement with school

High levels of parental involvement with their daughters’ school were associated with a reduced risk of teen-age pregnancy.4

Children with families who reported high levels of involvement with schooling at home and with the school had better academic performance and school adjustment than those children whose families reported lower levels of involvement with their children’s schooling.5

Parents with lower education levels and minority parents are less involved with school activities and have less contact with the teachers than parents with higher education levels, and parents with higher education levels are more successful in translating information from school into actual family practices that help children in school.6

75% of mothers with school-age children are in the workforce; 60% of mothers with preschool children. 54% of babies under age 1. 66% of employed parents with children under 18 say they do not have enough time for their children.7 89% of company executives identified the biggest obstacle to school reform as lack of parental involvement.8

Family literacy

The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success is reading aloud to children.9

Child abuse and neglect

Children who have been maltreated are at higher risk for health, social, psychological problems–and academic problems. In a study of abused and neglected children under age 13, over half had school difficulties, including behavior problems and over 20% had a learning disorder that required special education.10

Dropping out of school

Completing high school cuts the risk of future unemployment in half. Median earnings of college graduates were over three times that of persons who did not complete high school.11

Teens who have positive future aspirations are much less likely to become pregnant, abuse drugs, commit crimes, or drop out of school.12

Students who drop out report feeling they were shut out of school activities, were powerless in adversarial teacher-student relationships, were bored and uninvolved, didn’t receive enough individual attention, and were treated disrespectfully.13

Almost 60% of teens with a school-age pregnancy dropped out at some point between the 8th and 12th grades. 28% of these teen mothers dropped out before they were pregnant.14 Children born to teen mothers are overwhelmingly more likely to : be low birth weight and born in poorer health; have their health care paid for by public source; be abused or neglected; be placed in foster care; be involved in juvenile and adult crime; drop out of school; and become teen parents.15 It is estimated that if childbearing were delayed just a few years to age 20-21, taxpayers would save between $6 billion to $9 billion annually.

Creating Academic Success

Preschool. Comprehensive prevention and early intervention, including quality early childhood education and family support, are highly effective in increasing later school progress and success. For young, low income children, center-based programs with a language-based curriculum and high quality day care are effective, particularly in combination with intensive parent programs involving parents in learning the most effective ways to interact with their young children.16

Kindergarten and elementary school years. Comprehensive early intervention programs are the most effective in improving the school success of at-risk elementary school children. These comprehensive programs combine academic skills, school-age child care enrichment, family support, and response to individual needs of children and families to prevent school failure.17

Middle and High School Years. Youth who are engaged in school, who value doing well in school, and who are more involved in academic and extracurricular activities, are more likely to be high achieving than other students.18 Transitions from grade to middle school, middle to high school, or from one school to another are points of vulnerability for youth.19 Failure and drop-out rates are higher for high schools with larger classes, high pupil-teacher ratios, and an emphasis on tracking and testing.20

Responsive school environments are characterized by high expectations for all; strong family and community partnerships; safe, positive, cooperative environments; varied teaching approaches; challenging, interdisciplinary curriculum; positive individualized assessment procedures; and strong supportive personal relationships between youth and adults in the school. All students benefit from such learning environments.21


1. L. Newman and S. Buka. Every child a learner: reducing risks of learning impairment during pregnancy and infancy. Denver: Education Commission of the States, 1990.

2. OSU, 1997.

3. Barton & Coley, 1992.

4. J. Manlove, Journal of Research on Adolescence, 1998.

5. B. Ho, Effects of family-school connections on school success among ethnically and linguistically diverse families, 1996.

6. Lareau, 1987; Singh, Bickley, Keith T., Keith B., Trivette & Anderson, 1995; Stevenson & Baker, 1987.

7. Families and Work Institute, 1994.

8. Perry, 1993.

9. Anderson et al., 1985.

10. Schene, 1996.

11. Oregon Employment Division, 1995.

12. OSU, 1997.

13. Dryfoos, 1990.

14. Manlove, 1998.

15. Maynard, 1996.

16. Kellaghan et al, 1993; McWhirter et al., 1993; Slavin et al, 1994.

17. Slavin et al, 1994.

18. Steinberg, 1996.

19. Eccles et al, 1993; Graham et al, 1997.

20. Dryfoos, 1990.

21. Scales, 1996.

Family-Centered Service Delivery