ONE of Quincy's nonprofit groups recently expanded its already considerable outreach in the community under a contract with the state.
Bella Ease, the not-for-profit umbrella organization that operates Teen Reach locally, is now offering Family Focus services as well.
Cheryl Williams, the group's administrator, said the Department of Children and Family Services has provided a grant to fund Family Focus efforts through June 2019.
"We'll help parents find jobs, get referrals or take parenting classes" among other things, Williams said.
Family Focus meshes well with Teen Reach, which helps school-aged children who are at risk of dropping out. Teen Reach offers after-school programs so that children can study, get help from mentors or take part in recreational activities under adult supervision.
"Now we can address the whole family" Williams told The Herald-Whig.
As an example, Williams said a parent who needs to get a GED or take job training might need help finding child care during classes or testing times. Family Focus will advocate for the family and help steer participants to agencies or programs that can help.
Family Focus is not a new idea. Seven Family Focus direct service centers are operating in the Chicago area, serving about 17,000 people a year.
Mike Nobis, chairman of the Quincy board of directors, said Bella Ease took possession of a house at 1201 N. 12th last week to serve as an office and headquarters for the community outreach.
Quincy's Teen Reach, it should be noted, was the only program of its kind that remained in operation throughout the budget impasse that halted funds for many social service programs for more than two years.
Williams and Nobis agree that community donors, and selfless staff members who went months without pay, were the heroes who kept open this vital program.
It is encouraging to see a new social service program that invests in young people and their families. In this case the partnership between the state, local supporters and the organization that gave us Teen Reach is an auspicious beginning.
We expect big things of this initiative.