Connections Build Resilience: Family input is the most important part of the plan
June 14, 2021
Connections Build Resilience (CBR) YouthConnect is a home-based program that has worked to support more than 14,000 youth since it was founded in 1959. In 2021, the organization was vastly different from the Colorado Boys Ranch Foundation that it started as, but the organizational motto to strengthen families has not changed.
Today, CBR supports Colorado children, parents and families right in their homes, schools and local communities. The program has successfully evolved and adapted to meet the ever-changing needs of families, budget constraints, demands of society and even a worldwide pandemic.
CBR provides services statewide and currently has contracts with 26 counties to help support their efforts in strengthening families. Colorado county departments of human services refer families who need additional support to CBR, and CBR staff then work alongside the caseworkers and GAL’s to provide additional support.
Meet Terry, CEO of CBR
Terry Scofidio, Chief Executive Officer of CBR says CBR is rare because the organization is 100% community based and the work is done where people live, work and play. “We don’t have a facility because our work is done where people are,” said Terry. Terry described CBR’s services as being flexible and creative to ensure that the needs of families are being met. Instead of showing up to a family's doorstep with a plan or a curriculum, CBR staff works with the family to find out how they can best utilize support.
Terry described her positive experience in having good role models and a good support system while growing up as a child. Having a positive childhood experience inspired her to commit to helping those who are experiencing the complete opposite in childhood.
When asked what she believes can help to prevent child abuse and neglect in underserved communities, Terry stated that she believes that addressing behavioral health earlier and early intervention and prevention programs would largely impact instances of child abuse and neglect.
Meet Allison Hagen, Central Region Director of Family Services of CBR
Allison Hagen is the Central Region Director of Family Services at CBR. As a 7-year employee of CBR, Allison values the flexibility, smart and creative staff, and the opportunities to meet the families where they are. Allison’s first job in social work was with CBR, and she says she is continuously learning through the organization.
If you were to ask Allison, she would say that youth are the focus at CBR and that the organization has a positive impact on families because of the opportunity to continue helping the family after they are no longer involved with their local county human services department. Allison says that working with families long after their involvement with human services provides an opportunity for the program to constantly uncover the unique needs of families, which further helps to enhance the services provided by CBR.
“We receive set goals from the county, but we also know when to pause and take a second look at what else is going on with a family. It is important to identify the family's natural supports,” said Allison.
Meet Andrea Wangaard, Northern Region Clinical Director of CBR
Andrea Wangaard is the Northern Region Clinical Director of CBR and has been with the organization for 10 years. Andrea started as an intern and family service provider. Having an opportunity to experience the growth within families and witnessing the smallest success fills her bucket and reminds her that it is all worth it. “We get good work done because we meet families where they are,” said Andrea. “If mom can’t make a meeting, we’ll meet her where she is and help her fold laundry or wash dishes as we meet.”
Andrea exemplifies CBR’s dedication to meeting families where they are – literally. She stayed the night in the hospital with three teen sisters who were all having babies with minimal support. Without hesitation, Andrea said that she would do it all over again if she was needed.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, CBR staff had to be as creative as possible to ensure that families continued to receive the support they needed. Not all families have access to computers, WiFi, or smartphones, so the idea of supporting families completely virtually was not going to work. “We were quickly deemed essential, so we grabbed our masks and hand sanitizer and continued to help strengthen families, in person,” said Andrea. “We continued to see families 3-4 times a week and this included porch meetings, taking a walk with families and visiting their homes.”
Andrea - and the entire CBR staff - want communities across Colorado to know that parents don’t set out to abuse and neglect their kids. “We know that parents love their kids and we don’t just work with mom and dad, we work with anyone who cares for the family. If aunt, grandma or other family members live in the home or help with the kids, we want to work with them, too. This helps for the support provided to the family to be consistent and safe.”
CBR exists to help families stay together and to help support families in the best place for the child. Learn more about what CBR does to support Colorado families.
The Colorado Department of Human Services CO4Kids campaign encourages all Coloradans to strengthen families and communities. If you know of an organization or individual working to strengthen Colorado families and communities that would like to be highlighted, please reach out to Dianna Robinson.
To learn about the signs of child abuse and neglect and for information about how to become a foster or adoptive parent, visit CO4Kids.org. Call 844-CO-4-Kids to report concerns about child abuse and neglect. If a child or teen is in immediate danger, dial 9-1-1.