BY NANCY J. BLISS
On Behalf of Family Strengths Network‘s Board of Directors
Dear Los Alamos County Council Members,
Funding provided by Los Alamos County to Family Strengths Networks braided with other grants and donations to deliver an outstanding, well rounded family resource program to support the families in Los Alamos County. We would like to ensure those families continue to be served.
The goal of this letter is to outline why the County should maintain a working relationship with FSN.
- FSN has been serving families in Los Alamos since 1989. Over those 31 years, FSN has gained the trust of families.
- FSN is the brand for family resources in the community and the place where families look for ongoing support, especially in times of crisis. FSN’s infrastructure is in place and able to serve families right now;
- FSN can mitigate issues that arise for families due to the pandemic. For example, FSN was able to partner quickly with Los Alamos Public Schools and two of their kindergarten teachers to host a discussion with parents on kindergarten readiness since traditional events addressing this had to be cancelled in light of Covid–19.
- FSN has established networks with key organizations. These networks allow FSN to collaborate continuously with other agencies, ensuring programs meet the needs of the families served in real time. Some of these key organizations include Los Alamos Public Schools, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, First Born, BabyNet, and Las Cumbres.
- FSN is a regular host to BabyNet and the Special Needs Roundtable, and opens their space to organizations like First Born and Las Cumbres at no cost. BabyNet was reestablished by FSN in 2017 and is a subcommittee of the County Health Council. Before Covid–19 restrictions, BabyNet met monthly at FSN, now they meet remotely. FSN is working closely with members of BabyNet, which consists of organizations and individuals in Los Alamos that serve families prenatal to age 5, to unify those services for this demographic within the County. Unifying, not dismantling, is in the best interest of the County and community.
- FSN has successfully braided funding from the County with other grants and donations to maximize services to the community. That braided funding has made it possible to offer programs like the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group, Chit–Chat and (Change) Diapers Parent Support Group, and the Family Resource Center and its libraries.
- Lapses in services to families should always be avoided, but especially with the added stresses families are experiencing and will continue to experience due to the pandemic. Now is a particularly sensitive time to risk putting community family services in jeopardy.
- FSN is an established advocate for women in our community. A current example of this is FSN‘s role, in collaboration with members of BabyNet, in addressing the lack of OBGYN and birthing services in Los Alamos.
- FSN works well under pressure. In the fall of FY20, FSN was displaced for 10 weeks due to damage caused by a sewage leak in the facility outside of FSN‘s control. Not only was FSN able to keep routine programming in place during this challenging time, but in some cases participation numbers increased. FSN‘s response to the Covid–19 pandemic has also been outstanding as programming was moved to remote platforms as quickly as possible. Through both situations, families have had continuous access to needed and valued FSN resources.
While we are all in uncertain times, we are certain that FSN serves our community well and has for over 30 years. We recognize that the County has played an important role in serving the community with FSN and are grateful to the County and for the work we have accomplished together. Please consider how FSN and Los Alamos County can continue to serve together for the betterment of the community.
Editor’s Note: Los Alamos County issued a request for proposals (RFP) earlier this year for the services that have been provided by FSN. Two proposals were submitted and the County Council is slated to vote at its June 9 meeting on the contract for the new next five years. Because FSN was not asked to work on a contract with the County, it is expected that Council members will have a contract before them for the other applicant. Under the County’s procurement rules, the identity of those who submit a proposal is not released at this point in the process. The new contract will go into effect July 1.