Winston-Salem and Forsyth County are thriving. The Wake Forest Innovation Quarter is bustling with start-ups, tech firms, Wake Forest University Medical School, and events in Baily Park. Downtown is brimming with restaurants and attracting new residents. Business 40 will become a safe and swift expressway, adorned with creative corridors.
And, yet, Winston-Salem and Forsyth County are at, or near, the bottom of many national rankings:
- Fourth from the bottom of all the counties in the country in economic mobility
- 269thout of 274 cities in terms of racial and economic inclusion
- The 16thhighest rate of housing evictions among 100 mid-size cities
- The highest rate of child food insecurity in the country
Can this tale of two cities be woven into a single story of shared prosperity?
While economic development is the essential driver, Family Services has a unique role to play in creating a healthy, equitable community that provides opportunities for all its residents.
The agency’s annual contribution to the well-being of families and children is significant:
- 619 preschoolers, ages 0 to 5, all of whom come from low-income homes, are developing socially, emotionally, and cognitively in preparation for success in kindergarten
- 80 percent of counseling clients make good to excellent progress on their goals
- 96 percent of abused children served through our Child Advocacy Center do not experience a recurrence of abuse
The value Family Services provides today is clear; its potential is much greater.
Nationwide, community-building organizations like Family Services face many challenges and threats to their capacity to do all that is asked of them in order to build strong families and communities, and to contribute to economic vitality.
Against the backdrop of an increasing need for human services — driven by income inequality, lagging student achievement, an aging population, and the challenge of the opioid epidemic — Family Services is working with the community to expand the programs and services that are helping children and families reach their full potential.
“Family Services is a beacon of light in Winston-Salem. They understand that the role of America’s human services organizations is not just to be great at service delivery but to be leaders within the community, innovators, and solution creators,” says Susan Dreyfus, President and CEO of the Washington, DC-based Alliance for Strong Families and Communities.
“They’re saying, ‘You know what? We’re not just a provider of programs and services; we’re going to provide the community with solutions.’ Family Services doesn’t solve problems by looking through the lens of ‘we can’t,’ they keep leaning in, bringing people together and saying, ‘How might we respond to this challenge as a community?’”
“Family Services is not giving people a ‘hand-out,’ they are helping people to build the skills, the attributes, the resources, the resiliencies they need,” says Dreyfus.
Family Services also knows something else – children thrive in strong families. And strong families build vibrant communities when they have access to the resources they need.
A call to action
But Family Services cannot meet these needs alone. Community change is dependent upon community engagement.
Over 113 years, Family Services has continuously adapted with innovation to meet the evolving needs of Forsyth County through its core program areas: counseling, family safety, and child development. They are pursuing community-wide initiatives to expand Pre-K programs and to prevent family violence. They are also committed to ensuring that the human services sector in Forsyth County has the resources needed to make the rankings on economic mobility, social inclusion, housing stability, and childhood well-being the rival of any city in the country.
If you would like to be part of the solutions that are working, please visit familyservicesforsyth.org to learn how to volunteer and donate.