Heart of Arkansas United Way’s Stable Families Initiative is a long-term commitment to end the cycle of generational poverty in our community. The Stable Families Initiative has leveraged $700,000 in grant funding through our partnership with the Ohio-based Siemer Institute for Family Stability since July 2012. These funds have been matched dollar-for-dollar within our community to total $1.4 million invested in the lives of families in Central Arkansas.
When families living in poverty have no financial safety net, even a seemingly minor event such as illness or a job loss can force them to move in with friends or relatives, live in a hotel, seek refuge in shelters or even live in their cars. The trauma and disruption children experience when their family is forced to move negatively affects their health, social and emotional development, attendance at school and academic performance. As the place they call home changes, many children start over in new schools multiple times per year. In new schools with new teachers, new peers, and new expectations, children are vulnerable to falling behind.
The Stable Families Initiative invests in programs that serve the needs of whole families, providing services to children as well as the adults in their lives. The Stable Families Initiative funds the Central Arkansas Family Stability Institute at Our House, which empowers families to thrive with tools to build their financial health and overcome housing crises. In doing so, we support the academic, social, and emotional success of school-age children in these families, and have the opportunity to improve the long-term health of our community.
Through the Stable Families Initiative, United Way partnered with Our House and the Siemer Institute for Family Stability to launch the Central Arkansas Family Stability Institute in 2013. Of 118 families served last year, 91% obtained or maintained safe, stable housing, and 86% avoided a disruptive school transfer.