Dennis Boody, Adriana Pecina and Blanca Perez:

Latinos in Missouri: Connecting Research to Policy and Practice—Hoy y Manana

The Family Conservancy and Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation


Presentation Summary


The Family Focus Program was begun in 1991 as part of Project Early, an early childhood and family support intervention program targeted to Latino families on the Westside of Kansas City Missouri.  It was initiated by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and implemented by The Family Conservancy (then know as Heart of America Family Services).  The program has evolved to provide family support and parenting education services to nearly 2,000 Latinos each year from the greater Kansas City metropolitan area.  The Family Focus Program is regarded locally and nationally as a model of community-based, culturally competent Latino family support program. 


The FFP provides classes, activities and services that help new immigrants to build support networks and to increase their knowledge of child development, parenting and other life skills.   Classes are conducted in the areas of prenatal, childbirth, child development, positive parenting, nutrition, ESL (English as a Second Language), GED instruction in Spanish, and various other life skills.  Materials are presented in Spanish and have been developed or reviewed for cultural appropriateness.  Knowledge acquisition is measured through pre/post testing.  Activities focus on culturally appropriate holiday celebrations.  To eliminate barriers to participation, most classes are provided in the evening, on-site child care and nutritious snacks are provided. Information and referral services are provided as needed. 


A parent advisory committee not only gives feedback and direction to the program (including participating in staff hiring process), but is designed as a leadership development tool for program participants.  Partnerships and referrals to both internal and external programs help to address additional needs, but also help to connect consumers more closely to broader community.   The Family Asset Building Program (FAB) is a program of The Family Conservancy that the FFP refers consumers to.  The FAB program addresses economic security by providing matched saving accounts and financial education designed to help participants acquire a first time home, post high school education or training and small business creation/expansion. 


Recently, the Family Focus Program expanded services with a SAMHSA grant from DHHS by partnering with the Kansas City Missouri Health Department to create the Esperanza Para Los Niño’s program.  This “science to service” initiative builds on existing services to parents by targeting first time pregnant Latinas in their first trimester of pregnancy.  Through intensive home visits, screening, education and training, bilingual case managers establish rapport with new immigrant mothers who are often isolated.  This relationship and the program services focus on maternal mental health well being and positive early maternal/child bonding. 


Another perspective on sustainability and local and national funding trends and similar program initiatives will be presented by a program officer of a major funder, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.  The intent exists to have a consumer of the Family Focus Program speak about her participation in the program and the impact its services have had on her family.  


Contact Information:


Dennis Boody

Vice President, Community Services

1829 Madison

Kansas City, Missouri  64108



Blanca Perez

Program Manager, Family Focus Program

1829 Madison

Kansas City, Missouri  64108



Adriana Pecina

Senior Program Officer

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

4801 Rockhill Road

Kansas City, Missouri 64110