Our Approach

Our Approach

We help families grow their resilience, strength, and connection.


FamilyWise grounds our practices, organizational cultural, and service delivery in a foundation of equity. We have spent decades supporting parents and recognize that many parents, especially those from Black and Indigenous communities, are parenting under the weight of racial injustice and intergenerational trauma. We honor the strength of families who create love and joy despite the trauma, and we continue to commit to ending racism and supporting healing in our communities.

Read our equity statement

Trauma Informed Care

We know that many of our families have experienced difficult, traumatic events early in their lives that have shaped how they respond to stressors. We have a strong reputation for providing impactful services to high-risk families affected by cultural and racial marginalization, poverty, and intergenerational trauma. FamilyWise staff are specially trained to work with these families in a way that is compassionate, patient, and respectful. We know that these families bring strengths, wisdom, and insight into their own life experiences, and we seek to partner with them to find new ways forward.

Natural Supports

Families who are supported by a network of friends and community members are more likely to break out of cycles of abuse, trauma, and poverty. We help families identify and strengthen the natural supports that they already have—whether through faith communities, school, work, or elsewhere. These natural supports can help families reduce stress and isolation, strengthen their safety net in case of an unexpected crisis, and increase their overall sense of well-being. FamilyWise uses the Wraparound model to incorporate natural support building across all our programs.

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Strengths Based

Instead of focusing on what a family lacks, our programs guide families to identify what they have. A strengths-based approach puts the focus on an individual or family’s capacity, skills, and potential. Families become partners in creating their own support networks—an approach which is more likely to create lasting, positive change. We center individuals’ and families’ voice and choice in the creation of solutions—rather than telling the family what to do, FamilyWise staff help the family realize its own strength, wisdom, and problem-solving capabilities.

NEAR Science

FamilyWise uses scientific research to help families understand and then recover from trauma. NEAR science studies how people respond to trauma and how they can become more resilient (more able to “bounce back” after bad experiences). NEAR science stands for:

  • Neuroscience—the study of how the brain and nervous system adapt based on our lived experience.
  • Epigenetics—how life experiences, including those of our ancestors, impact a person’s genes. Epigenetics shows that the body is always adapting.
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences – The Adverse Childhood Experiences study showed the effects of childhood trauma on a person’s biology and behavior. This can include long-term health problems and other difficulties.
  • Resilience – Resilience is the idea that a person can heal grow after difficult life events. Individuals, families, and communities can learn to become more resilient, breaking cycles of trauma and creating new ways forward
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Two-Generation Approach

Across all our programs, we believe positive parent-child relationships and parenting education are critical to the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and language development of children. Our two-generation approach includes opportunities for positive intervention and the recognition that healthy child development is strongly affected by parenting and the home environment. We use a two-generation approach in all our programs, but it is especially important in Bright Beginnings, our parenting and mentorship program for young parents.

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