Multiple Community Services: One Family's Experience


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Virginia Tech


The family support movement in the United States has its roots in the early years of the 20th century when progressives like Jane Addams worked to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and their families. Family support today is provided by multiple public and private agencies. How families experience these services is not well known. Such information could help service providers give meaningful support to those in need.This is a case study of how one family experienced the receipt of multiple community services. The family lived in Virginia, and four family members participated in the study. The family consisted of Elizabeth, the matriarch, age 39; Allen, third husband of Elizabeth, age 30; Bradley, middle son of Elizabeth, age 16; and Benjamin, youngest son of Elizabeth, age 14. Elizabeth's eldest son C. C., age 18, did not participate in the study.The services received by the family were focused on Elizabeth, a childhood victim of parental abuse and a cancer survivor, and Bradley, who was identified with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Bradley was a resident in a wilderness program for at-risk boys. The wilderness program was partially funded by the Virginia Comprehensive Services Act.The study had four purposes: (1) to inform policy makers about how families are affected by policy decisions on issues pertaining to families, (2) to influence the decisions of policy makers, (3) to add to the definition of quality family support, and (4) to provide information useful to educators and service providers in developing programs for at-risk children and families.Data sources were observations of, and interviews with, family members. Data were analyzed with the constant comparative method as described by Maykut and Morehouse (1994). The analysis and findings are presented in a narrative report.



case study, multiple services, family support, community agencies