Family Outcome-Centered Unification Service (FOCUS) offers the following services for families referred by DHR in Jefferson and Shelby County:
- Preservation and Reunification
Each FOCUS intervention will be specifically tailored based on the family’s strengths and areas of weaknesses. Here is a summary of different areas addressed and utilized to accommodate families. Recognizing not all families will need these specific services, FOCUS also recognizes some families may have other needs not listed below. FOCUS will accommodate each referred family in collaboration with DHR and other services as needed and identified through the ISP process.
- Basic Living Skills
The FOCUS Specialist can assist families in learning skills in the following areas: behavioral education, medication management, community awareness, money management, social skills, personal hygiene, housekeeping, shopping, public transportation, laundry, healthy lifestyles, stress management, maintaining a healthy environment, and tutoring. This will extend as well to helping the family learn necessary skills in the areas of communication, negotiation, emotion management, child management, assertiveness, household management, cognitive restructuring, independent living skills, competency development, daily life management, and other identified needs.
- Mental Health Consultation and Coordination
The FOCUS Specialist will collaborate with services working with the family throughout the intervention and provide DHR with information about the collaboration and the progress with the family, upon having written consent from the family.
- Family Support
The central goal of the FOCUS intervention is to strengthen the family’s ability to provide a safe, nurturing home environment for their children. All interventions, referrals and modeling are targeted at holding the family together as they grow healthier together. The FOCUS Specialist will work to help the child to be maintained in a healthy manner in the family and in the community. The services provided will include teaching skills, therapeutic modeling, behavioral support management, educational advocacy and therapeutic visitation support.
- Educational and/or Vocational Services
The FOCUS Specialist will assess the educational attainment of client youths and work with their schools and families to help them maintain or improve their school performance by collaborating at least monthly with the identified family’s school system.
- Substance Abuse Education and referral for Assessment and Treatment Services
The FOCUS Specialist will provide education on substance abuse, relapse prevention, and utilizing coping strategies as alternatives to substance use. In addition, FOCUS will either provide or refer the client with these issues to time-limited, goal oriented treatment services designed to assist clients in reaching and maintaining drug and alcohol free lifestyles.
- Assistance with Housing, Emergency Food, Transportation and other basic needs
The FOCUS program will assist the family in locating safe, affordable housing, advocating on the family’s behalf with utility companies, housing authorities or other agencies to obtain housing. In addition, the Specialist will provide assistance in accessing emergency food, clothing, home furnishings, etc.
- Assistance with Accessing Appropriate Medical Service
Unmet medical needs can impede a family’s ability to function well; the FOCUS Specialist will assist in identifying medical needs, obtaining appropriate care, and monitoring usage and follow through.
- Recreational Services
Sharing enjoyable times together is an important bonding process for families. The FOCUS Specialist will encourage and assist families in engaging in appropriate recreational activities for all family members.
- Job Preparation, Budgeting and Money Management
The FOCUS Specialist will work with the family to help them learn the basic living and job skills. Effective money management is foundational to long-term family stability. The Specialist will teach and assist the family in general household management and financial and time management, as well as, basic budgeting and money management skills.
- Sexual Abuse Education
The FOCUS Specialist will teach skills to support the healing of victims of sexual abuse, as well as, skills to recognize symptoms of sexual abuse and sexual abuse prevention.
- Domestic Violence Education
The FOCUS Specialist will assess safety issues in the family and teach skills through therapeutic intervention to assist the family with learning anger management, conflict resolution, fair fighting, and healthy relationship skills.
- Linkage with Community Service Providers and Resources
The FOCUS Specialist will provide assistance to families in identifying and accessing service providers and resources in the community during the intervention and as services draw to a close.
- Accessibility & Responsibility
FOCUS Specialists are on call to their client families 24/7. Specialists work flexible hours in order to accommodate families’ needs and meet with them according to their schedules. Specialists are available to DHR 24/7 as well.
Characteristics of FOCUS
Services are designed to resolve the immediate crisis and teach skills necessary for the family to remain safely together (preservation) or to reunite families (reunification). There will be a minimum of two visits per week with each client family. Each intervention length will vary depending upon attainment of the ISP goals. It is expected that each intervention will last up to three months or four months in special circumstances. State DHR may provide an additional length of service beyond the four month cut-off.
- Low Caseloads:
FOCUS Specialists carry only four to six cases at a time. This enables them to be accessible and provide intensive services at a time when families are experiencing the most pain and have the most motivation for change.
FOCUS Specialists are trained to provide a wide range of services from helping families meet basic needs of shelter, food, and clothing to providing more sophisticated therapeutic techniques.
- Service Area:
Services are provided to Jefferson County DHR and Shelby County DHR at no cost to the counties. There is no 1878 to complete.
- Service Schedule:
Services are initiated by DHR workers at the time of the ISP scheduled with the FOCUS program. Services are provided to the family in their natural environment at no cost to them or to DHR. Services focus on family education through teaching, modeling, role-playing, observing, and hands on skill building with the families served. Specialists will have weekly contact with DHR by phone or through email. Specialists will provide DHR with their cell phone number to maintain contact. Specialists will provide DHR a written monthly summary of services provided to the family and progress or lack thereof made during the month. Prior to termination, the Specialist will invite the DHR worker to meet with the family for the purpose of reviewing the progress made. Upon termination, the Specialist will request DHR to conduct an ISP in order to update the team on the family’s progress towards meeting their goals, as well as, recommendations.
Our Beliefs and Values
- Safety is our highest priority.
- Children are usually better off at home.
- A child’s relationship with his/her family is always important.
- Most families, if properly assisted, can care for their children.
- We can’t tell with absolute certainty which families are amenable to change.
- Almost all people can change.
- We believe in the importance of mutual respect in the relationship between the family and the FOCUS Specialist.
- It is our job to give hope to families, not the family’s job to be motivated.
- A crisis is an opportunity for change.
- Empowerment means enabling people to make their own agendas for change—not imposing our agendas on them.
- The environment is both a source of and solution to the problems of children and their families.
- Inappropriate intervention can do harm.
- We value and respect diversity and are accepting of family styles, lifestyles, and child rearing methods, so long as they promote a child’s health and safety
1401 20th Street South
Birmingham, AL 35205
We are dedicated to transforming the lives of families in crisis and delivering hope to the hurting.