Our HistoryHow Family Outreach Started
Family Outreach was incorporated in March of 1977 as a nonprofit agency to provide services to families with a child with developmental disabilities or `at risk’ of developmental disabilities, and who live within the 12 counties of Southwestern Montana . Family Outreach has grown from providing family support and respite services to 64 families in 1977 to providing a wide array of family support services to over 400 families and individuals today.
Family Outreach’s primary purpose is to provide services to children with disabilities and their families and to adults with disabilities. We provide support and education to children and adults, and their families to help keep families intact, prevent out of home placements and when that is not possible, to provide foster placements that support continuing family relationships. Over the years Family Outreach has been very successful in both these areas. Only a very small number of children have been unable to stay with their families and Family Outreach has successfully reunited a number of children with their families.
We originally contracted to provide respite, and educational and support services to families. We learned that it was impossible to achieve our goals of providing optimal support and keeping kids with their families without an effective system for researching and accessing additional resources in various communities throughout our region. So, we have developed and continue to improve our working relationship with all governmental and private agencies who serve the children we serve. In spite of that collaborative approach it was still not easy to provide all the services needed to enable all children to remain in a family setting. The introduction of the Title XIX Specialized Family Care Program in 1983 provided an additional important component to achieving our goals and increasing our effectiveness. This program, now known as Children’s Waiver Services (CWS), provides an array of supports including therapies, habilitation aides, extra respite, transportation, environmental modifications and equipment for children who meet the eligibility criteria and have been awarded “slot” in this program. The CWS program has given Family Outreach experience in recruiting and training providers of direct services and utilizing those providers to not only reduce the stress in a family but also enhance the child’s skills and quality of life. Although CWS has directly impacted the lives of only a limited number of families and children it has had a positive affect on all the services we provide.
In 1991 we expanded services to the birth to 3 year old population with the adoption of the Early Intervention program, now known as Part C. This program provides further refinement to Family Outreach’s services with its family centered focus. Through the Part C program Family Outreach staff have augmented their training and experience in effective communication and assessing family structures and environments.
In 1994 Family Outreach was one of only a few Montana ’s service providers to become qualified to provide a new adult service, Supported Living. That first year two adults were enrolled. Today Family Outreach provides an array of supports to over 70 adults living throughout our region. Family Outreach’s Supported Living program continues the model and purpose begun in the child and family program of keeping individuals in regular community settings.