Since the organization’s founding in 1971, IFS has been serving, and continues to serve, youth and their families struggling with educational and behavioral issues caused by poverty, substandard educational systems and unstable homes.
The youth we serve at IFS range from birth to 21 years of age. Almost all of our youth population come from single parent households, and are in foster care or residential programs. Our target population is predominately (90%) AfricanAmerican, between the ages of 16 and 18, largely from Newark (85% of our population), and a small population from East Orange and Irvington.
To date, IFS has served more than 15,000 individuals, achieving a 95% success rate in keeping youth safely and meaningfully in the community and avoiding institutional placement and helping 90% of our adult clients become self-sufficient and improve their parenting skills.
For Our Youth
Life Skills – The goal of the Life Skills program is to teach youth how to live independently, become self-sufficient and become positive contributors to society, by gaining proficiency in nine life domains, including: Career Planning, Communications; Daily Living Skills; Home Life, Housing and Money Management; Self Care; Work Life; Work and Study Skills; and Social Relationships. This program served 95 youth via trainings and workshops. Eighty-five (89%) youth served improved their independent living skills based on pre-and-post Life Skills Performance assessment measures. IFS has a rolling enrollment process for this program.
Youth Development – All program modules include hands-on experiences that simulate real-life. It provides youth with oportunities to have a voice in determining the help they require to develop into self-sufficient, caring and self-directed adults. In all our program modules, staff observes youth as they deal with real-life situations. These observations provide us with opportunities to deliver positive reinforcment or help youth to identify appropriate ways to modify their problematic behavior. In 2017, 92% of youth participated in workshops, presentations, field trips and youth-led activities. This year IFS focused youth on post-secondary education and additional educational or job opportunities in New Jersey. Youth visited seven (7) colleges and universities in the state. As part of their community involvement lessons, they particiapated in a “Breast Cancer Awareness” walk and a “Pennies for Patients” savings and giving project.
Survivors And Victims Empowerment (SAVE) – Our newest program SAVE provides extensive support services to victims of violent crime in Newark, East Orange ad Irvington. Save has a particular focus on victims ages 6-17, and underserved groups i.e. LGBTQ victims and human trafficking victims. SAVE provides first and early response services, reporting to crime scenes, hospitals and police stations to support victims and their families who must begin the process of healing. Its trauma informed services include individual, group and family therapy, life skills training, assistance with navigating the criminal justice system, peer support services, and a crisis hotline. During its first six months SAVE has worked with over 200 individuals.
This program provides case management services to young people who have left residential care and are actively living independent lives. The services are provided for one year, however, youth may return to the program after a year for additional support until the age of 21. Services consist of case management, access to resources and referrals, and Chafee Funds.
For our Families
During the 2018 program year, the East Orange Family Success Center served over 300 families (over 700 individuals). The Center serves as a starting point to help families thrive by working with families who are in need of a variety of family centered supports. IFS has provided services for youth and families, including;
Resources – Connecting families to services through information and referrals; individualized family success plans, parenting education, and parent/child bonding activities.
Sankofa Academy – Held during afterschool hours, and the summer, the academy conducts a series of academic enrichment, tutoring, reading, and cultural awareness activities for grade school students. In both the summer program and afterschool program, students displayed increased knowledge and confidence in the subject areas, enhanced basic skills and an increased interest and enthusiasm in improving their academic skills. Most notably, students displayed steady progress in increasing and/or maintaining reading, writing and comprehension skills. Parent surveys were conducted at the conclusion of the program and on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the best rating, parents reported overall satisfaction, with an average overall rating of 4.
Family Gatherings – Monthly family bonding activities.
SHARE – Monthly food co-op offering fresh fruit, vegetables, poultry, meat, and groceries at deeply discounted rates.
Drop-in Activities – Hands-on activities for children & families, held on days when local schools are closed.
New Jersey Performing Arts Center Partnership – Free tickets for families to attend cultural performances and activities.
Active Parenting – A video-based education program teaching parents techniques to assist in raising responsible children who are able to cope with life’s challenges.
Circle of Security – Assisting parents in recognizing their child’s needs and developing a healthy parent-child bond.
Financial Literacy – Workshops that assist individuals and families increase their knowledge and utilization of financial planning skills and tools.
KUUMBA – Early Childhood literacy-based workshop to teach parents creative and engaging play activities for children ages 2-5 years old. Activities emphasize speech/language development, motor skills, and developmental milestones.
Empowerment Workshops – Providing life skills training to individuals and families to foster independence and positive self-motivation.