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A Family and Natural
Supports Approach

Our Family and Natural Supports (FNS) program assists other Choices for Youth (CFY) programs, particularly youth in our Momma Moments and RallyForward programs. FNS works with CFY program participants to improve their relationships with the important individuals in their lives. 

At the youth's request, the FNS team will build a relationship with that youth’s identified support system to help find creative ways to promote positive relationship-building and connection. FNS incorporates mediation, conversations, and healing into its programming to help young people mend fences and restore their ability to access other supports in their lives. The FNS team also helps young people mitigate legal matters such as child custody and access, thereby keeping young people out of the court system and facilitating more meaningful and purposeful outcomes.

Jeannie Piercey, Momma Moments and Family & Natural Supports Program Coordinator

The ultimate goal is that, when these participants are no longer part of our program, they are connected to people in the community. And that’s so valuable. Oftentimes this population only has professionals as support, and we hear that all the time from the clients we work with. It’s really about building their base on a solid foundation so that when they are done and they are out in the community, they have these natural supports that they can connect with. There’s a lot of historical trauma that people have, and sometimes all it takes is mediation and support to break down some of those barriers to relationships. And we’ve seen some great success. It’s a very exciting piece of work to do when you can help healing and bring families back together.

The FNS approach works because it breaks down relationship barriers for young people and provides valuable services for families. Momma Moments has used FNS as a key component of their programming for some time. The FNS program employs a family therapist who supports Momma Moments program participants, allowing them to address longstanding issues such as intergenerational trauma. 

The FNS program also receives referrals from the RallyForward program. Many young people in the RallyForward program come to CFY with fractured relationships. The supports provided by RallyForward make both the parents' and youths’ lives easier. The RallyForward team takes an FNS approach to their work by going into their youths’ homes and assisting them with lifestyle skill development. By empowering their young people to take ownership of household chores, RallyForward is reducing the number of stress factors affecting their home lives and mending fences in their relationships.

The Upstream NL program is also reaping the rewards that come from taking an FNS approach. By bridging the gap between students, their families, and their teachers and administrators, Upstream NL is removing some of the strain on the school system while also increasing their students’ attachment to the classroom.

Melissa Power, Upstream NL Program Coordinator

“It’s really important to work with the whole family. Working with minors means we have to work within the family unit…we are trying to foster the family relationship, the natural supports relationship so that young people can lean on their village in the future as opposed to having to go to a support service.”

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