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“I really didn’t think there were people to help people like me.”

At the age of fifteen, Jessica left a home of violence and abuse. She met her future husband in high school and got pregnant with her first child. The two wed and now have four beautiful children. Jessica and her husband struggled to keep a roof over their heads and their children safe. Through her child’s school, Jessica connected to Family Stability Initiative Program (also known as Kids Home Initiative) and began receiving the support and guidance she needed.

“I really didn’t think there were people to help people like me.”

Nine months later, Jessica is now the backbone of her family. The family received financial assistance and found a lovely house to call home. Jessica was connected to an employment specialist who aided her in securing a better job. She shares her story and success in the program to provide hope to others who may be struggling, to let them know that there is someone who is willing to lend a hand. Jessica, her husband and her four children are just one of the many families that have thrived through FSI.

United Way of Greater Atlanta and its partners are providing hope to families just like Jessica’s in the Cobb and DeKalb counties, where more than 30% of students are homeless or at-risk. Our strategy calls for collaboration between nonprofit, private and public agencies to create a community-based Continuum of Care to ensure families receive health, education, income and housing resources. We use a 3-step approach: the community helps you, you help yourself and you help your community. This method promotes family accountability and encourages a cycle of giving back. UWGA has assisted over 500 kids to remain in their school of origin and stay on track for graduation.

Families receive case management services that connect them to stable housing, benefits and emergency assistance. Once a family achieves greater stability, both adults and youth participate in the Achievement Club, growing from skill-based workshops focused on health, income, education and housing. In addition, families are encouraged to participate in the Community Building Institute and contribute to projects like building a playground, beautifying the local park, or planting a community garden. FSI (also called Kids Home Initiative) is being replicated in other counties. Through FSI, the overall health and wellbeing of the child and family are addressed while nurturing the community and developing strong foundations for the future.