family impact network

Concrete Goods Solidifying Futures

A new program is underway at the Family Impact Network that supplies families in need with safety and health products. It will particularly focus on expanding accessibility of these goods to the more rural areas of eastern Washington, providing support to families with little available nearby.

The project is being funded through some extra unallocated funding from FAR (Family Assessment Response). Some of these goods are purchased directly from the manufacturer, others are purchased through distributors like Amazon or Home Depot. By purchasing these concrete goods in bulk and then distributing as needed, FIN receives the best value on goods. This allows the program to distribute more of these products for cheaper.

Some of the most needed products include safety items for families with young children such as car seats, safety gates and child-proofing supplies. Additionally, the program constructs packs of concrete goods that include personal hygiene and menstruation products. There are options for packs of cleaning supplies and vacuums to help families maintain a clean home as well.


The project started in July, and the product packs became available at all five locations in Spokane, Colville, Colfax, Newport and Moses Lake as of Thursday September 15. Residents in all 8 counties of eastern Washington will have access to these products and packs through their social worker.

Heading up the project is Concrete Goods Manager Sam Song. He recently described a story in which he had researched and found a used washing machine and dryer for a family. The importance of services like these to the lives of the family members cannot be overstated.

In 2013 Washington State Department of Health reported that housing conditions have a significant impact on the future health of the child.

The Family Impact Network aims to provide the support to families struggling to stay together by supplying them with products needed to maintain a safe and healthy lifestyle. This new project is an exciting expansion of services that will reach new populations in need.



Bill Proposed to Reduce Rates of Family Separation

Great news from Washington DC as bi-partisan house and senate representatives have proposed new child welfare legislation, that would work to reduce the number of children in foster care. Mental health and substance abuse issues can strip parents of the resources they need to build loving and healthy homes for their families; this bill proposes expanding access to family, health, and treatment services to empower families to remain united. In addition, when separation is needed, this bill will prioritize children being placed with relatives. 

According to the Ways and Means Committee press release, the Family First Prevention Services Act will strengthen families and reduce inappropriate foster care placements by:

  • Giving states flexibility to use federal foster care dollars to provide upfront, evidence-based prevention services — such as parent training and individual and family therapy — to prevent inappropriate foster care placements and improve outcomes for children and parents.
  • Ensuring more foster children are placed with families by ending federal reimbursement when states inappropriately place children in non-family settings.
  • Keeping children safe by reauthorizing the Regional Partnership Grant program that provides funding to state and local evidence-based services aimed at preventing child abuse and child neglect due to parental substance abuse.
  • Reducing the amount of time foster children wait to be adopted or placed with relatives across state lines by encouraging states to replace their outdated child placement systems with a more efficient electronic system.
  • Supporting family members who unexpectedly assume responsibility for a child by providing important caregiver resources and eliminating unnecessary paperwork.

Empire Health Foundation has been working to build a more family supportive child welfare system in our region through the work of our subsidiaries Family Impact Network and Rising Strong. We look forward to following this bill as it is introduced.

For a summary of the bill, click here.
For draft bill text, click here.

Family Impact Network Uniting Families with Uber

In the Spokane region, every year nearly 700 children are removed from their homes and placed in the care of friends, relatives, or the foster care system. The only opportunity these kids have to see their parent(s) is during scheduled visitation times at visitation centers like the Salvation Army Visitation Center in Spokane. Unfortunately, some visitation providers report that 40% of all scheduled visitations are cancelled. The high rate of cancellations and no shows to visitation times is not only fiscally costly, but most significantly they directly affect the parent-child relationship and the rate and timeliness of unification of the family. The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses the necessity of ensuring that children have frequent visits with parent(s) to prevent stretching and damaging the parent-child relationship that takes place when children are deprived of uninterrupted, day-to-day relationships with their parent(s).

Everyone has been frustrated by the rate of no shows and cancellations. Through our work with the Family Impact Network (FIN) we partnered with the Salvation Army to provide ride services at no cost to parents via Uber. The goal was to collect data that tested our hypothesis that providing individualized transportation to and from scheduled visitations would reduce the rate of no shows and cancellations. What initially was intended to be a three-month trial spanned a six-month period; during this time a total of 427 rides were provided to 25 voluntarily participating parents. At the end of the pilot program data showed that as more parents accepted Uber rides there was a decrease in the percentage of missed or cancelled appointments. Parents within the program cited the rides as a significant help in balancing the coordination of health appointments, meetings for treatment, job interviews, and visitations with their child; during the course of the program one parent interviewed was able to transition to home visits. We can only imagine the heartbreaking choice some of these parents are faced with in choosing between child visitation or a health appointment or job interview. If we were able to re-program dollars that were spent on missed visits to increase transportation options, that would be a win for everyone.

Empire Health Foundation is proud to have subsidize this pilot that is demonstrating an innovative approach to solving a pressing need for our most vulnerable families.

Job Openings at Family Impact Network!

Check out these postings for two positions which have opened up at our subsidiary, Family Impact Network.  You can download the job descriptions to learn more about the positions, and you can visit Family Impact Network's website for more information on the work they are doing to support efforts to transition vulnerable children and families from crisis to resilience!

Family Impact Network presents preliminary data to Washington House Early Learning Committee

Family Impact Network Executive Director Kristen West Fisher presents to the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee on FIN's efforts to implement Performance Based Contracting.  She highlighted lessons learned (emphasizing the value of the partnership with Children's Administration headquarters and regional staff) and previewed data the new system will provide to inform practice and policy.  Take a look at the video from TVW (Kristen's presentation starts at 10:35) and at the slides below to learn more about FIN's work in Eastern Washington!