Families in Motion beneficiary JM and her family at a community resource fair at City Park in Bridgeton, NJ in April 2021. Photo credit: URC

URC’s non-profit affiliate – the Center for Human Services (CHS), has delivered a range of education and support services to the Hispanic community in southern New Jersey for over 25 years. Families in Motion (FIM), a multi-county collaborative supporting families on their journeys to success, is one program that has made a significant impact on Hispanic families in New Jersey.

The FIM collaborative supported families in southern New Jersey increase family income, live a healthier lifestyle, and connect with their communities. Funded by the Pascale Sykes Foundation, FIM was a five-year partnership between CHS, the Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey Inc., Inspira Health Network, and the Latin American Economic Development Association.

The collaborative engaged with low-income families in Gloucester and Cumberland counties to improve their economic stability, physical and mental health, and civic engagement. Using an evidence-based, whole family approach, FIM offered programming to meet the needs of parents and children, connecting them with family development coaches and social support service providers.

Successful Strategies to Support Families

The family development coaches helped families set goals for economic stability, physical and mental health, and civic engagement. Families were connected with local programs and services needed to achieve their goals. CHS provided intensive case management services to 121 families. FIM hosted open houses at family success centers in Gloucester and Cumberland counties and carried out extensive outreach and networking with other community organizations which provided support services.

FIM’s economic stability services covered money management, financial knowledge, and improving earning potential. The program’s physical and mental health services focused on improving nutrition, proactive approaches to good physical health, and cultivating an emotionally safe and healthy family life. Civic engagement services promoted participation in community activities.

The program helped nearly all participating families meet their goals: 88% of families achieved their behavioral/emotional goals; 91% achieved civic engagement goals; 93% achieved workforce development/entrepreneurship goals; 91% achieved money management goals; 96% achieved physical and mental well-being goals; and 90% achieved nutritional goals.

Additionally, FIM offered English as a Second Language instruction to families and individuals. This education allowed families to maximize their overall FIM experience and achieve family goals.

Engaging with Local Governments, the Private Sector

CHS developed partnerships with local government agencies and other community groups and service providers, including New Jersey’s State Department of Children and Families, Department of Education, Department of Health, and Department of Labor to identify services to support FIM objectives. CHS worked closely with local government family success centers to hold homework clubs, arts and crafts activities, and other programs for children plus parenting skills support for adults.

CHS engaged with the Mexican Consulate in Trenton, NJ to provide services to FIM clients, such as issuing passports, identification cards, and marriage licenses for Mexican citizens and civic education instruction to help Mexican families know their rights in the U.S.

Partnering with private sector entities expanded FIM services, including provision of free or low-cost vision tests, reproductive health services, and parenting education services. CHS engaged with employment agencies to help families complete job applications and prepare for job interviews. Private sector partners included:

  • TD Bank, which provided FIM clients with financial literacy education;
  • CATA Farmworkers, which provided information on worker rights to immigrants working in agriculture;
  • The Lupus Foundation, which offered education and support to families affected by Lupus;
  • The Salvation Army, who donated groceries, clothes, and special dinners and gifts during holidays; and
  • The Community Food Bank of New Jersey, which conducted SNAP-Ed nutrition classes on improving diets to prevent diseases such as diabetes and high cholesterol as well as fitness education programming.

While the planned sunsetting of the 30-year-old Pascal Sykes Foundation in 2022 has ended FIM, the community partnerships formed, and the capacities developed in hundreds of beneficiaries endure and will continue to contribute to economic prosperity and community health for years to come. URC/CHS is proud of our legacy in Southern New Jersey and honored to have been part of FIM.

URC/CHS Legacy in Southern New Jersey

FIM built on 20 years of CHS support for programming to benefit Hispanic communities and families in Southern New Jersey, beginning with the Migratory Agricultural Workers and Seasonal Farm Worker with Disabilities Projects in 2001. This was followed by: the Reducing Diabetes Disparities Project, Adult Basic Skills, English Literacy and Civics Project, and Institute of Mexicans Abroad Scholarship Program in 2005; the 100% Insured for Sure Project in 2008; Latinas Involved in Full Treatment (LIFT) and the New Jersey AIDS Partnership Project in 2009; and the Latent Tuberculosis Infection Education and Awareness Project in 2013.