During President George H.W. Bush’s administration, legislation was passed creating the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (PSSF) through Title IV-B of the Social Security Act. In 2001, President George W. Bush greatly increased the funding for this program because of its great success in providing effective community-based services to the highest risk families. The goals of the PSSF were to “protect children, promote family strength and stability, enhance family functioning and develop a more responsive service delivery system.” As required by this legislation, half of the programs funded through PSSF were classified as family support and half as family preservation.
It was the vision of the creators of this program that services would not be run by large public agencies, but by smaller community-based groups that had the ability to be more creative, flexible, responsive and family-friendly than large public agencies. All services were to be collaborative, family-focused, and community-based, and must target families and children at-risk, in crisis or in need of services to promote well-being and stability.
Locally, the planning process for the Family Preservation and Support Services Planning Grant began in September of 1994 with the development of the proposal by the Local Planning Entity. In November of 1994, the Local Planning Entity was awarded funding to conduct a study and develop a five-year plan for families and children in the targeted area. The guidelines emphasized the need for interagency, local and community-based planning involving a broad array of local stakeholders, so a planning team, consisting of individuals from various public agencies, private agencies and the community assisted in the creation of the plan and provided guidance throughout the process.
Allegany County’s five-year Community Plan outlined a strategic vision to guide the development of innovative services for South Cumberland families and children. The South Cumberland area was targeted for assessment and community planning due to being one of Maryland’s 72 most distressed neighborhoods, at the time, while also being branded by poverty, single parent families, female-headed households, low educational attainment and high unemployment.
The three highest priority needs for families and children in the South Cumberland area identified by the planning team were responsible parenting practices, recreational opportunities and job availability. At the time, the few services that were offered locally to parents were often fragmented and duplicated, leading to a lack of participation from families.
Thus, the need for The Family Junction arose…
Originally started as a PSSF program known as The Family Junction and based in Allegany County’s Health Department, The Family Junction’s goal was to increase the number of South Cumberland families who function in a responsible, healthy, self-sufficient and safe manner. The Family Junction offered in-home crisis intervention services and prevention and education services for families.
Following a brief move from the Allegany County Health Department to Second Baptist Church in South Cumberland, The Family Junction relocated to Apt. 10G in Jane Frazier Village, a public housing complex in the heart of South Cumberland, on December 22, 1997. The location at Jane Frazier Village provided The Family Junction with a larger working area—three separate offices, a kitchen and a sizable room for parent education programs.
On February 25 & 26, 2004, The Family Junction moved to its present location at 610 Memorial Avenue in Cumberland, through the generosity of the Western Maryland Health System. Located next to the former Memorial Hospital, the house was donated for The Family Junction’s use by the Western Maryland Health System and renovated through funding from a City of Cumberland Community Development Block Grant.
During the month of The Family Junction’s move to 610 Memorial Avenue, First Presbyterian Church’s Rev. Morton Harris approached The Family Junction about using the former Southminster Church building as part of his vision for community outreach. The Family Junction partnered with another local organization to share the facility and renovated the sanctuary and parsonage through a Community Development Block Grant. Now called The Southminster Community Center, the center became operational in March of 2007 and now houses our weekly parent meetings.
The importance of the services offered by The Family Junction is undeniable. Since 1996, we have provided family enrichment services in Allegany County to over 800 families by furnishing parents with the resources they need to build strong relationships with their children for happy, healthy lives. Our commitment to our community extends into the future, and The Family Junction will continue to grow based on the need of parents in Allegany County during the years to come ... because families matter!