Currently, we are operating only one Family Resource Center on a very
limited basis using volunteers and a few paid staff. This is due to the
loss of state fuinding which had sustained our program for the past
twenty years. Rather than remove this information from our website,
we decided to keep it here in case it might be helpful to others.

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Raising Neighborhoods

"Before we got the center started, this was a terrible place to live. There were people on the streets selling drugs to anybody who drove by, and there was no sense in calling the police because as soon as they saw that cruiser, everybody’d be gone, unless someone got shot or something and then the police would investigate but nothing would ever come of it.

"Before we got the center started, it was hard to sleep at night, they made so much noise, and sometimes there was shooting. Even in the daytime we couldn't let our children play outside. We wanted to do something about it but we just didn't know what."

---These are the words of a young mother

Since 1994, The Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project has been committed to providing assistance to the residents of communities which are struggling with these and other issues of poverty, substance abuse, joblessness, and isolation.

Even the worst neighborhoods are populated by good people who just don’t know what to do. Intimidated by guns and violence, they lack the resources, the guidance and organization to take their neighborhoods back from the criminal activities, the sleepless nights and dangerous days.

Today, the Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project is managing four Family Resource Centers in the Orange County area of North Carolina.

What is a Family Resource Center?

A Family Resource Center is a warm and welcoming place in the community where any family member can go, not only in times of need, but as a regular part of day-to-day life. Family Resource Centers offer parent education classes, child development activities, parent-to-parent support groups. Afterschool and academic enrichment, GED and literacy instruction, health information, referrals and many other programs, activities and services. These services are modified and added to, depending on the needs and desires of local families.

Family Resource Centers are unique in their approach to working with families: they build families' strengths and capacities, serve as a hub for the community, work for positive social change, and offer help without stigma. Parents act as resources in many capacities, from serving on a decision-making board, participating in Center programs, learning job skills to cooking for a potluck community dinner.

Chapel Hill Training Outreach Project, Inc. manages four Family Resource Centers in Orange County, North Carolina, serving five neighborhoods. The Centers are community-based and located in the midst of the neighborhoods they serve.

The Family Resource Center provides a comprehensive array of family support programs, services and activities.

Services may include:

Children’s health
  • Health and developmental screenings
  • Immunizations
  • Well-child examinations
  • Access to pediatric care
Access to prenatal care
  • Access to general
  • Medical care
  • Classes on diet,
  • Nutrition and health
Drug awareness and counseling
  • Information
  • Resource and
  • Referral services
  • Access to mental health services


  • After school programs
  • Tutorial programs
  • Evening Homework Clubs
  • GED programs
  • Literacy programs
  • Children’s issues
Children’s Issues
  • After school care
  • Safe play areas
  • Child support enforcement
  • Health, medical, & nutritional services
  • Child safety in and out of the home
  • Teenage youth councils
Social Services
  • Employment opportunities
  • Information and referral to other
    government and community resources

Mission and Goals

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Resources, Division of Social Services provide the main source of funding for the Orange County Family Resource Center program. The FRC's overarching goals, as defined by the state DSS, are to:

  • Enhance children's development and ability to attain academic and social success.
  • Promote successful transition from early childhood programs and childcare to public schools.
  • Assist families in achieving economic independence and self-sufficiency.
  • Mobilize public and private community resources to help children and families in need.
  • Ensure that plans are designed and implemented to provide families with services in a holistic family centered manner.

Principles of Family Support

  • Staff and families work together in relationships based on equality and respect
  • Staff enhance families' capacity to support the growth and development of all family members---adult, youth, and children.
  • The family serves as a valuable resource to it's own members, to other families, to programs, and to communities.
  • Programs affirm and strengthen families' cultural, racial, and linguistic identities and enhance their ability to function in a multicultural society.
  • Programs are embedded in their communities and contribute to the community-building process.
  • Programs advocate with families for services and systems that are fair, responsive, and accountable to the families served.
  • Practitioners work with families to mobilize formal and informal resources to support family development.
  • Programs are flexible and continually responsive to emerging family and community issues.
  • Principles of family support are modeled in all program activities, including planning, governance, and administration.

How Effective is Family Support?

Family support is about investing in the promotion of the positive things that families want for their children. In the long term, family support is a societal investment in the creation of happy, healthy, productive citizens. This investment has an impact on the families who participate in services, and on society as a whole. Research shows that by investing in positive outcomes for children and families, family support programs also, over the long term can lead to:

  • fewer teenage pregnancies
  • less juvenile delinquency
  • improved behavior and performance of children at school
  • fewer incidents of child abuse and neglect
  • more families moving from welfare to work
  • increased self-confidence, knowledge of child development and skills on parenting a child among parents
  • greater educational attainment among parents

Through these positive outcomes, family support allows us as a society to invest in the development of citizens rather than putting money into more prisons, foster homes, and public welfare. This investment has a tremendous effect on overall productivity as a society and on the ability of those receiving family support services to contribute to us as a nation. (Excerpted from a report by Family Support America, 2000).

Collaboration is the Key!

Collaboration has been a key to the success of the Family Resource Center program and is recognized as a top priority in the continued growth and service of the Centers. Collaboration among numerous agencies, student organizations, town and city governments, school systems, departments of health and social services, civic and religious organizations provides on-site programs, services, and activities. Representation on local Advisory Boards, scholarships and financial assistance, volunteers, and in-kind donations such as educational materials, transportation, and Center space are also contributions that support FRC programs. Chapel Hill Training Outreach Project, Inc., in its capacity as a networking hub, is at the center of collaborations, coordinating efforts between the Centers and outside agencies while providing technical assistance, administrative support, and training to staff and Advisory Boards of the Centers.

Family Resource Centers (FRC's) can only succeed through true commitment and collaboration between families and organizations that work together. Family Resource Centers re-invent how services are delivered by bringing resources into the community to families, based on their identified desires and needs.

Family Resource Centers partner with other agencies and community groups in order to provide a broad range of programs, activities and services to meet the total needs of families. The school systems, departments of health and social services, the local police department, churches, and many other agencies and service organizations, in addition to volunteers are vital to the Centers' programs.

Because each FRC is located in the neighborhood that it serves, it provides a unique and vital role, not only within the neighborhood, but also for the community-wide human service provision network. Bringing services into the community not only eliminates tangible barriers to participation such as transportation, but also demonstrates a willingness to meet parents and families “half way”. The FRC program has become an essential partner in this process for many local agencies.

Our Community Partners:

APPLES-UNC (student services learning program)
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Sertoma Club
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public Library
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Police Department
Grace Church
HYPE-UNC (Helping Youth by Providing Enrichment)
Kappa Alpha Psi (UNC Black Service Fraternity)
Operation New Life
Orange County American Red Cross
Orange County Department of Social Services
Orange County Dispute Settlement Center
Orange County Early Head Start
Orange County Health Department
Orange County Literacy Council
Orange County Public Library
Orange County Rape Crisis Center
Pines of Carolina Girl Scout Council
Public Allies North Carolina
St. Paul AME Church
The Women's Center
Time Warner Cable
Town of Chapel Hill Department of Housing
University United Methodist Church


Establishing a Family Resource Center

While not every FRC will follow the steps as listed, CHTOP, Inc staff recommends strongly that each step is addressed at an early stage of development.

1. Identify Funding:

The minimum annual cost of operating an FRC is approximately $75,000. State and local government grants combined with private foundation and other fundraising activities are the common sources for this funding. In working with local government officials, do funding opportunities emerge? Are facilities available at no cost? What other, "in-kind" contributions are available?

2. Identify the Neighborhood:

The best sources of information on identifying communities that would benefit from the establishment of an FRC include:

  • The county Department of Social Services
  • Town and city government officials
  • Town city and county police and sheriff's departments

3. Identify Neighborhood Leadership:

  • Recommendation of municipal and county staff and others who may know the community.
  • Community meeting. After circulating flyers and posting announcements, host a meeting at a convenient location and discuss possibilities of a new center.
  • Canvass the neighborhood with paid volunteers from the neighborhood if possible. This will develop residential involvement and will also provide an assessment of neighborhood needs and resources.

4. Develop a Team:

As a result of the first three steps, there will emerge a team of residents, municipal, county, school, faith community and health personnel, as well as local community development specialists. This team will form the basis for the FRC’s Advisory Board.

5. Acquire Facilities:

FRC’s operate out of almost any kind of facility: apartments, houses, trailers, community centers, office buildings, schools, etc. They may be set up in rented, donated or borrowed spaces. They may or may not share facilities with a community-policing substation.

6. Recruit Volunteers:

Volunteers come from the neighborhood and from the greater community. They come from schools, businesses, and civic and religious organizations.

7. Identify Community Needs:

A community needs assessment should be conducted initially and then updated as needed.

8. Identify Potential Resources:

Potential resources are identified and contracted by staff, who then make recommendations to the Advisory Board.

9. Design, Implement and Evaluate the Program:

With staff recommendations, the Advisory Board approves the plan and oversees its implementation. As the program is being designed, evaluation issues need to be considered which answer the question, "How do we know that we did what we said we wanted to do?"

What's New:

Strengthening Families Program (SFP)

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services/Division of Social Services approved a grant award to the Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project, Inc. for the implementation of the Strengthening Families Program, a 14-session skill-building program for families with children aged 6-11 years old. The goals of this nationally recognized program is to help reduce child maltreatment risks and to build strong families. The program is administered by the Orange County Family Resource Center project staff.
The Strengthening Families Program is free to all families residing in Orange County and interested in strengthening their families, learning communication and parenting skills and understanding the behaviors of their children. The program meets one evening a week for 2 ½ hours. Transportation, child care and dinner are provided. This 14-session training brings parents and their children together in learning environments that strengthens the entire family.
Major objectives of the Strengthening Families Program are to improve family relations, increase skills in parenting a child, improve children’s behavior, increase children’s social competencies and reduce or prevent alcohol and drug abuse.
The program offers parent training sessions that teaches parents how to increase positive behaviors in their children, children training sessions that focus on social and life skills such as peer resistance skills, stress and anger management and family training sessions that focus on practicing family communication skills, effective discipline and reinforcing positive behaviors.
To register for the Strengthening Families Program, or to make a referral, please contact Alesia Sanyika, Program Coordinator of the Orange County Family Resource Centers at (919) 641-0168. All families are required to participate in a short assessment session where they will learn more about the Strengthening Families Program. >>Back to Top
HUD-ROSS (Self-Sufficiency Initiative)
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved the Resident Family Self-Sufficiency Services (ROSS) grant to the Chapel Hill Department of Housing. The ROSS grant has been contracted to Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project, Inc. and will be administered by its Orange County Family Resource Center program.
The program will provide educational opportunities including job, life skills and technology training, financial counseling and other programs that would assist residents to become self-sufficient.
  • Twelve participants will be selected from a resident pool of applications and must be selected as a result of an interview process. Residents must agree to complete a 30 month self sufficiency program that would increase vocational and economic potential.
  • Participants will receive training resources based on individual needs such as financial literacy, GED, individual case management, life skills training, parent and child activities, and preparation for home ownership.
  • Residents will receive support services, childcare and transportation services as needed.
  • Residents may be eligible to receive a stipend for training, family or educational related expenses.
Selected residents will be required to attend meetings once per week and make a 30 month commitment to the program. Certificates of Achievement will be awarded during the graduation ceremony at the end of the program period. This program counts as community service hours for resident housing requirements.
The ROSS program will operate from the Airport Gardens Family Resource Center located at 821 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in Chapel Hill. >>Back to Top
New Respite Program
According to Webster’s, “respite” means a period of temporary delay; an interval of rest or relief.
Beginning Saturday, September 15, 2007 the Orange County Family Resource Centers started sponsoring community-based respite care to parents needing a break.
Trained and experienced staffimg src= are available at the S. Estes FRC each Saturday from 1pm-5pm so that parents with children ages 5-11 can take time out for themselves.
For the children, a typical afternoon includes:
1:00pm - Blow up/hang colorful balloons from the ceiling, and make FUN name tags using markers, stickers.
1:30pm - Team building activity (Usually art work, i.e. color in diamonds to form a Rainbow Star-team effort)
2:30pm - Wash hands and make fun snacks (rice cakes, peanut butter, raisins, apples, bananas & juice!) Children have fun learning about nutritious snacks.
3:00pm - Outdoor team play (kick ball as a team, jump rope as a team)
3:45pm - Art projects (potato art/t-shirts, making flowers out of tissue paper, etc); Computer research (researching holidays on computer), Theater (acting out stories and creating a Thanksgiving play for the community). We devote an hour to any or all of these activities.
4:45pm - Release balloons from ceiling and draw smiley faces with markers; fun with balloons!
5:00pm - Time to go home and implement the FUN activities learned! Students are not divided into groups but play together so they can learn to accept each other at whatever level they're on and to help each other out. >>Back to Top

For More Information

Family Resource Centers have proven to be effective in reaching "hard to reach" populations. Local control of planning and implementation builds trust, and facilitates the effective delivery of services that are available through local government agencies and other "helping" organizations. The FRC gives residents the opportunity to improve their neighborhoods making them safer and more nurturing for themselves, their children, and their families.

If you are interested in learning more about Family Resource Centers in the Orange County area of North Carolina, please contact

Director of Community Development
Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project, Inc.
800 Eastowne Dr. Suite 105
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 490-5577 Ext. 227
(919) 490-4905 fax

Building strong families, healthy children, and safe and supportive communities is the mission of the Orange County Family Resource Center program.

Dobbins Hills Family Resource Center