About Helping Families Initiative

The Helping Families Initiative helps Alabama communities use existing resources to save the futures of young people at risk of using illegal drugs or committing other crimes while making classrooms and communities safer. Over the long-term it also reduces the number of young people sentenced to prison where they often become career criminals, contribute to prison overcrowding and costs.

Helping Families creates these benefits by bringing local leaders — district attorneys, judges, law enforcement officers, mayors, county commissioners, educators, judges, local foundation officials and leaders of public and private social services — together to build support for collaborative action that identifies young people at risk and their personal and family risk factors. It addresses these factors through a multi-disciplinary team that coordinates services of multiple agencies depending on needs.

The multi-disciplinary team builds collaboration among public and private agencies that jumps over communication and other barriers (such as reluctance to share information between agencies) and saves the futures of young people through a wide variety of services that improve their environment and opportunities.

Helping Families is based on both research and experience. Scholars have pointed out for years that lack of education, poverty, poor living environments, absent fathers and other conditions can lead to illegal drug use and crime. Experience shows a variety of services from several agencies are needed to address these problems.

Helping Families is effective. In the Mobile County School District, 80 percent of students suspended for serious disciplinary problems were not suspended again in the following 12 months. When measured against key school variables — such as student grades, unexcused absences, suspensions and school infractions — statistically significant gains are clearly evident.

Helping Families effectively fights crime before it happens and before career criminals are formed. It increases safety in the young peoples’ neighborhoods and in other areas which is important because crime doesn’t stay in just some communities. It makes schools safer and classroom experiences more productive while encouraging students to complete high school.

For more information, contact:

John M. Tyson, Jr.
Helping Families Initiative
Volunteers of America Southeast

600 Azalea Road
Mobile, AL 36609

(251) 533-1621

Upcoming Events

4th Annual Child Advocacy Day
VOICES for Alabama’s Children
Montgomery, AL
March 16, 2017
“Helping Families Initiative”
Alabama District Attorneys Association
Fairhope, AL
April 6–9, 2017
“Next Generation of K-12 Indicator and response Systems to Increase Students’ Post-Secondary Readiness and Persistence”
A Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supported initiative, sponsored by the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland
May 1–3, 2017
“Getting Better at Getting Better”
Carnegie Foundation Summit on Improvement in Education
San Francisco, CA
March 26–30, 2017
“Breaking Down Barriers — Humanity Matters”
National Association of Social Workers — Alabama
Bryant Conference Center
Tuscaloosa, AL
April 24–25, 2017