BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos County Council on Tuesday evening approved two separate two-year contracts with Family Strengths Network and Las Cumbres Community Services for provision of family resources, support and parent education programs. The programs are designed to improve parents’ sense of support from other parents, increase sense of confidence and self-esteem as a parent, increase the understanding of child development, change expectations and perceptions, and actuate changes in parent behavior.
Council directed that the services were to have two focus areas: Promotion and Prevention, and Intervention and Treatment. This resulted in the issuance of two separate requests for proposals.
At an August Council meeting that continued past midnight, one contract was being considered to be awarded to Las Cumbres. An outpouring of support for Family Strengths Network from the community meant that Council eventually decided to establish a subcommittee to find a path forward that would address the concerns raised.
During the process, a gap analysis was conducted and reviewed which identified the evolving needs in the community. The gap analysis looked for gaps or potential duplication in current services and focused on where coordination and collaboration could result in better service as well as where additional services were needed. With the two new contracts, the County hopes to increase the efficiency of services offered to the community as well as the impact of the funds the County spends on the programs.
Under the new FSN contract, FSN will provide evidence-based programs that will: Support peer to peer programming for both men and women to include bilingual programs; help parents through peer-to-peer support and activities involving parents and children together; and strengthen families in a systematic, logical way.
FSN will provide networking, social support, resources and information for young families based on their needs in Los Alamos County. This will include information on child development; easily accessible resources for the community such as books, magazines, audio and DVD’s, pamphlets, brochures, etc. on topics related to parenting and raising healthy families; easily accessible toy lending library – toys that promote skill-building attributes across a range of development skills, including physical (gross and fine motor), educational (math, reading, writing), and social and emotional (turn-taking, role-playing) skills.
Referral services will be provided to connect families with other service providers to promote a community-wide network and serve as a provider agency, if needed, for referrals by the Los Alamos Police Department, County Social Services Division, Juvenile Probation Officer and Los Alamos Public Schools of individuals and/or families identified as needing parent education services.
A second contract was approved for Las Cumbres Community Service, which encompasses programs to provide parent and/or caregiver support to both men and women including bilingual programs; teaching and sharing information and skills to promote cognitive, language and socio-emotional development in children with qualified staff; encourage child development while reinforcing family competence and strengths through community-wide classes, workshops, seminars and talks; and offer direct services to children and families that may not qualify for any other state-funded program.
Under the Las Cumbres contract, one-on-one case management services are to be provided to families to assist in evaluating school-aged children for developmental delays and work with Los Alamos Public Schools to develop Individual Education Plans. In addition will help identify needs and develop a plan to meet the individual needs of children and refer them to outside agencies.
The FSN contract is for $100,064 the first year with a 5 percent increase for the second year. The Las Cumbres contract is for $125,000 for the first year, also with a 5 percent increase for the second year. The contracts are on a calendar year basis and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2021