FIRC works to strengthen families through education and financial resources. We believe strong sustainable families are the key to a strong and healthy community.
Mission: FIRC promotes stable families.
Vision: Envisioning a caring and thriving community.
- FIRC believes that with the proper tools, people can succeed as individuals, parents and community members
- FIRC believes that strong families are the framework for strong communities
- FIRC believes diversity makes for a richer community
- FIRC believes that parents are the first and most important teacher to their children
The Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC), originally named the Summit County Family Resource Center (FRC), started serving Summit County, Colorado, in 1993 out of community necessity for more localized assistance. At the time, childcare and parent effectiveness were identified as major challenges facing Colorado residents. As a result, the State provided partial funding for “Family Centers” with missions to address these and related issues; the funds provided helped kick-start the FRC.In 1995, the FRC opened the Summit Thrift & Treasure store, the only nonprofit thrift store in the county. The thrift store opened in order to provide affordable clothing to Summit County residents and strengthen FRC’s financial stability.
In January of 2000, the Census revealed a 700% increase in the immigrant population in Summit County. This new information showed an important and urgent need for education and awareness to help the community adapt to the changes in the community’s population. Summit County Government began a six-month planning process to address these new needs; 28 community members met monthly to strategize and plan the development of a diversity center. It became obvious to the planning team that the FRC shared many of the same goals and objectives of the diversity planning team. As a result, FRC board members and the diversity planning team worked together to recreate the goals and mission for the newly named Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC).
In 2003, FIRC moved to new offices in Dillon, Colorado, to share a location with Court Appointed Special Advocates, Early Childhood Options and Summit County Head Start, encouraging collaboration with these agencies. Since then, FIRC has improved and broadened family services, expanded food bank space and thrift store retail space, and continued to strengthen its staff to effectively meet the needs of Summit County. In 2008, after a community health assessment and community health strategic plan were completed, FIRC was asked to address the problem of “access to health”. In addition, research based parenting classes have also been identified as lacking in Summit County by the Parenting Education and Strategic Planning group made up of various agencies whose mission is to safeguard children. As a result, FIRC is now dedicated to identifying community partners in an effort to address the numerous uninsured and underinsured residents in Summit County as well as providing curriculum based parenting classes to all Summit County residents.
In 2014, FIRC moved into purchased office space in Silverthorne. The new space provides classroom and childcare space, a teaching kitchen, food bank and offices for 25 staff. The new office allows FIRC to offer many more classes for the community and support for the programs. FIRC continues to be a community leader in the area of cultural integration, resource and referral services, emergency services, family support and early childhood development.
Executive Director Statement
As I reach my ten-year mark at FIRC, what I am most impressed with, is our Summit County community and how everyone pulls together for the greater good. I am amazed at the ways partner organizations have come together to support families – from affordable housing efforts to providing low-income families with childcare scholarships. 80 percent of families have both parents in the workforce, one of the highest rates in the country, and without childcare assistance, many parents would not be able to afford to live here. Affordable housing is equally important, as it allows people employed in Summit County the ability to also reside here, and become invested in their community.
At FIRC we are continually working alongside community members and organizations to identify and fill the service gaps. By recognizing where families are struggling, we are able to provide them with the tools they need to be successful. None of our work would be possible without the generous contributions from the community and our volunteers. As Summit County’s population continues to grow, so does the need for FIRC’s services. We are so grateful that the community sees the value in providing the support necessary to assist people through crisis situations. Fortunately, Summit County agrees that it takes an entire community to raise a child and with your support, we will be able to continue to grow and change to meet the needs of the clients we serve.
Strengthening Families Approach
Program Strategies to approach families as a whole
- Respond to family crisis – Noticing family stress, listening, making referrals and providing access to needed resources, including financial help, housing, support, mental health or substance abuse services, health care, and more, through formal and informal supports.
- Strengthening Parenting – Providing guidance, role modeling and information on parenting and child development, including special support around children and teens’ challenging behaviors.
- Link families to Services and Opportunities – Making and following through on referrals, maintaining relationships with service providers and sharing community information with families.
- Facilitate Friendships and Mutual Support– Helping parents to connect with each other and develop social networks. When parents know they aren’t the only ones struggling with child behaviors or development, they are less likely to take it out on the child.
- Facilitating children’s social and emotional development – Providing a nurturing and caring environment, using a structured curriculum for social and emotional development, teaching parents to support that development.
- Observing and responding to early warning signs of child abuse and neglect – Constant monitoring of child health and family stress
- Valuing and Supporting Parents – Making all family members feel welcome, involving parents and caregivers in decision-making at all levels, and providing many opportunities for participation.
Protective Factors resulting from effective programs
A protective factor is a characteristic that makes a parent, child or family more likely to thrive and less likely to experience a negative outcome.
- Parental Resilience – Financial, work, family or relationship stress can have a significant effect on all parents, which is why FIRC works to provide people with strategies to prevent children from becoming the victims of abuse or neglect. Unexpected financial emergencies or deteriorating relationships can happen to anyone, and when parents are faced with trauma or crisis, it can be very difficult to focus on effectively raising a child. FIRC can help families address issues and give them techniques to avoid taking their frustrations out on the child. Staff works to remind parents of their strengths so they can find solutions to their problems and get back on track.
- Social Connections – Summit County can be a difficult place for parents raising a child. Studies show that feeling isolated and alone are major issues for our local parents since many have moved to this area and lack the typical extended family’s support. Plus, living in a resort towns means many empty second homes and the feeling of a true neighborhood. FIRC provides a variety of group activities that encourage to meet and form friendships.
- Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development – FIRC works to provide parents with the support and education needed to help them be the first and most important teacher in their child’s life. FIRC’s Parent Educators work with parents to prepare their child to enter elementary school, achieve developmental milestones and address challenges. FIRC also advocates and provides classes promoting parent engagement throughout a child’s entire educational career.
- Concrete Support in times of Need – FIRC’s Community Support Team works to provide families with assistance during times of crisis. Studies show that when concrete support is available to get through a crisis, the ability to thrive from that event is much higher.
- Social and Emotional Competence of Children -In all programs, staff work with parents to help them realize the impact they have in their child’s life. By engaging with their child, parents can help them develop social and emotional skills that will impact them for a lifetime.
Impact of Strengthening Families Approach
- strong families
- optimal child development
- reduced child abuse and neglect
Building on strengths is the core foundation of all FIRC programs. Staff start with the understanding that all families have strengths and all families need support. Staff members work with families to recognize their achievements and traits that help them thrive during tough times. Once parents realize their strengths, they can build upon them and set goals towards utilizing new parenting techniques, achieving stable financial stability and more.