To keep families together, El Centro de Amistad was contracted by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to help to empower families to become self-sufficient and reduce future reliance on agency interventions. The Family Preservation program began in September and so far 24 families have been enrolled.

Families, who are at risk of having their children removed, are referred directly from a DCFS community-based liaison or from Probation. “These families are in the [DCFS] system and the cases are intense,” said Tania Fallert-Del Gatto, associate director. “Many times there is a pattern of multigenerational abuse, violence and dysfunction within the family so safety and parenting are major areas of concern.”

Comprehensive four-week assessments are made of their external and internal environment to determine where the needs are the greatest, identifying the path to become self-reliant, and how to tap into the support systems they have available. Our In-Home Outreach Counselors (IHOC) work to ensure immediate family needs are met. For some parents that means complying with court requirements. We provide parenting training, in-home outreach counseling services, community referrals, teaching and demonstration, and can assist with obtaining basic needs such as beds, refrigerators, car registration, and other helpful items.

“Families are confronting the possibility of losing their children so they have many court requirements that have been presented to them,” said Sara Pineda, who is the program director.

The contract activities will continue through June 30, 2020 with the aid of three in-home outreach counselors, who spend four to five hours weekly with each family, serving up to 105 families per year. Our goal is to reach 1,500 family members, hoping to break the cycle of violence and empower the lives of these individuals.

With the focus on counseling, monitoring the children’s safety, coupled with connecting families with community support systems and mental health treatment, if needed, families will achieve independence from government agencies, and empower themselves for a better future.