Established in 2019, the Seaford Community of Hope (SCOH) initiative is a cross-agency, cross-sector community action initiative that aims to engage a broad spectrum of public, private, faith-based and nonprofit community partners to establish placebased Family Resource Centers (FRC). These FRCs offer highly coordinated, comprehensive services and supports to vulnerable families living in subsidized housing developments in Seaford, starting with families living at Meadowbridge Apartments and the surrounding area.
This program’s aim is to increase community resilience, stability, self-sufficiency, and economic advancement by providing wraparound services addressing social determinants of health. There is an overarching goal of reducing child abuse, neglect, and referral into the child welfare system. Through this project, we hope to help mitigate the effects of social inequality and intergenerational poverty. Studies show that one in five Black Americans are experiencing poverty for the third generation in a row, compared to just one in a hundred white Americans.
The SCOH initiative was built collaboratively with early partners that included Delaware’s First Lady, Tracey Quillen Carney, as part of her First Chance initiative, Children & Families First, First State Community Action Agency, Sussex County Health Coalition, and the Delaware Division of Family Services (DFS).
Currently, the SCOH is under way with broad committed community partnerships and an established committee planning structure, with numerous partners engaged in service delivery through educational resources and programming. Our Stakeholder Committee regularly meets every month. Partner engagement is across Seaford’s sectors including:
The committee has identified three layers of focus for the SCOH program:
The SCOH program is focused on three levels of support:
The SCOH team is onsite at Meadowbridge Apartments on a consistent basis, hosting numerous events. A key strategy related to all SCOH objectives is the establishment and use of Parent and Youth Advisory Councils/Committees. These Committees are populated by individuals with lived experience with inter-generational poverty, disenfranchisement, and/or involvement with child welfare.
The Parent Advisory Committee has acted as a point of contact for the residents to help plan community activities and disseminate information throughout the Seaford Community of Hope. The goal is for the parents and grandparents to lead this committee with staff support and assist with recruitment of additional parents and rotate participation. Staff actively listens to what participants say they need to thrive.
Due to consistency in this community, there has been tremendous progress in the comfort level of residents. Families are more vocal about their needs and are willing to share ideas on things that they would like to see for their community. The trust and engagement that has been built in this community in the past couple years has also allowed for a deeper dive into case management and beginning to work with families on an individual basis.
An enrollment/intake process has been established in order get a better understanding of family dynamics and gaps that exist, and how we can address barriers. Appropriate assessment tools are used to learn more about family needs and priorities and to assist in developing and following up on family-led goal planning. A bi-directional referral system has been established with several partner agencies for families in need of emergency services, health resources, financial support and workforce development.
Specific programming/supports include:
- A Parent Advisory Committee that meet regularly to guide project activities
- Community-wide events such as food distribution events, housing education events, educational family fun nights, health and wellness activities, nutrition education, parenting education, youth empowerment, and workforce development
- The development of a Family Resource Center where supports and services come right to the neighborhood to reduce barriers to engagement
- One-on-one case management where staff/partners work with residents on an individual basis to help them achieve goals
Furthermore, The Seaford Community of Hope program has also started an initiative called the Healthy Community Dollar Dinner Project in partnership with the Western Sussex Boys and Girls Club. This initiative champions community dinners as an opportunity for families and individuals to connect with each other through meaningful conversation and a shared meal, hence building a sense of community cohesion.
Studies show that the simple act of sharing a meal helps to build confident, caring and connected children and families.
By participating in community dinners, the hope is that individual families will feel inspired to jumpstart their own commitments to nightly dinners, as they feel part of something bigger than themselves. Furthermore, these community dinners address many barriers in our community, including food insecurity and nutrition education by giving families access to affordable nutritious meals and healthy recipes to prepare the meals at home.
Our Healthy Family Dollar Dinners incorporate an educational component, bringing in speakers from various community organizations to present meaningful resources and information about topics and skills that families can use in their everyday life.
Dinners are held on the second Thursday at the Western Sussex Boys and Girls Club in Seaford.