New report highlights the innovative Gainesville Community of Hope in Florida

Can a library be a one-stop shop to strengthen families and reduce abuse, neglect and the need for foster care? As the Partnership for Strong Families (PSF) in North Central Florida learned, the answer is a resounding yes.

PSF, a child welfare services provider serving Alachua and 12 other counties in North Central Florida, has developed a powerful way to nurture families through support services delivered at four community resource centers.

It all started with a local library in Gainesville. As local leaders sought ways to reach families in need and reduce the number of kids who end up in foster care, they decided to meet families where they are, in a welcoming environment: the library. Tapping into community assets, they created a strong collaboration, the Library Partnership, which includes community agencies, nonprofits and leaders working to turn around the county’s high removal numbers.

The Partnership began providing a range of services at the local library, including resources for rent and utilities assistance, aid with food and clothing, and programs and activities such as tutoring, counseling, health events, computer training and assistance with job searches and financial management.

Their collaborative, service-oriented approach has created some impressive results. Initial five-year data (2009 to 2014) for the Library Partnership showed a 76 percent decrease in the number of verified child maltreatment reports in the communities surrounding the Library Partnership, based upon ZIP codes.

To learn more about how the community, with the support of Casey Family Programs, was able to create a Community of Hope, safely reduce the need for foster care and expand its approach to three more community resource centers, read this short report.