Heritage Multicultural Youth and Family Program, Inc. (HMYFP); Northern Virginia and Metropolitan D.C.
Strengthening and Preserving our Families in Transition (SPOFIT)
The SPOFIT program works with newcomer families through a 14-16 session group work model led by culturally relevant facilitators. Program objectives are to:
The Strengthening and Preserving our Families in Transition (SPOFIT) program is presented as either 14 or 16 consecutive weekly sessions (16 weeks for more recent arrivals), with each weekly session meeting for approximately two hours. The SPOFIT curriculum emphasizes awareness of positive family and cultural values, family dynamics, stress-free transition, relationships and communication skills. Weekly group sessions focus on family and parenting values, family relationships, youth acculturation and life skills development, and communication skills. The family centered segment focuses on parent and family readiness for change, active parenting, and youth in transition. Resources accompanying the curriculum are utilized. Culturally competent professionals serve as group facilitators to lead each session.
The SPOFIT model has been developed out of years of extensive direct service work with the immigrant and refugee population, and through an extensive review of current parenting and family strengthening programs. This unique model was designed in consultation with families, community leaders and experts in the field. It is specific to the varied and complex needs of the immigrant and refugee families who are in transition from their particular ethnic traditions to Western cultural communities. While the program is designed around a 14 to 16 week activity structure, the model is crafted with enough flexibility to be successfully adapted to alternative population groups and locations. Focusing on the family as a unit, and the youth as an individual at a critical crossroads in life, this program emphasizes a holistic and culturally relevant approach to strengthen and preserve the family in transition.
The group sessions address topics such as the following:
This model strongly supports both the bicultural and the positive youth development (PYD) concepts, embracing the idea that the development of youth assets is inversely related to participation in risky behaviors. This model regards the family as a whole entity and seeks to utilize the assets within youth, their families, and communities to promote positive adaptation and change. The popular Somali proverb “Together the teeth can cut”—meaning “Unity is power”—underscores the notion of family unity as the foundation of family strength promoted through the SPOFIT model. The program can be used with families and children of any age, but it is particularly suited to families with children age 10 and older.
1. Referral & Prescreening – HMYFP receives referral information and conducts screening to determine suitability for the program.
2. Intake Screening – The focus of this segment is to obtain information specific to the family, allowing the family to tell their story in an environment and language that is most comfortable for them. The family also completes a pre-test and documentation for the program.
3. Program Orientation – The first formal group meeting serves as an ice-breaker to become acquainted, and to develop rapport within the group environment. It covers basic ground rules and expectations, along with relevant local laws and concerns. Some common resettlement issues are discussed, such as changes in family roles and dynamics, supervision, discipline, and support systems.
4. Skills and Adjustment Training Modules (SATS)
5. Family Specific Support System Module – This module offers individual, family and group specific supports to address intergenerational, bicultural and family specific issues, systems concerns, and challenges confronting new immigrants in their communities. Specific services include the following.
6. After Care – Each family completes a post-test and the agency offers referrals to other community agencies. Recommended follow-up visits are conducted with the family at the end of the 1st month, 3rd month, 7th month and one year, after which the case is closed.
Designated space, office supplies, computers and printers, instructional materials and worksheets, videos, games, resource guides, arts and craft supplies, food, transportation, field trips, guest speakers, cultural arts and craft materials, cultural artifacts.
The primary focus is on African immigrant and refugee populations (largely West Africans along with some East Africans); however, this model can be successfully adapted to diverse population groups and situations globally. It is specific to the varied and complex needs of immigrant and refugee families who have experienced hardships, migration, major losses, trauma and cultural transition.
This program is primarily funded through partnerships and collaborative ventures with other community-based organizations (for example, Howard University-African Studies; University of D.C.-4H program; City of Alexandria Public Schools, VA; Fairfax County public schools, VA; D. C. Public Schools; Chances for Youth, Woodbridge, VA; AMNET - Freetown, Sierra Leone; African community based churches, VA and MD.) The program benefits from individual contributions and in-kind donations.
There is one full-time coordinator/leader, three part-time culturally competent facilitators, one part-time administrative support and two volunteers. Staff facilitators are specially trained and are culturally relevant.
An outcome evaluation includes a multi-method measurement procedure, including a pre- and a post-test evaluation, as well as surveys of family members and feedback from partners and collaborators.
This program has successfully undertaken partnerships and collaborative ventures with local and international agencies, schools, churches and universities since 2005.
Alimatu S Mustapha-Palmer, NCC; LPC; SCAC; CCDVC
Director, HMYFP, Inc.
This program began in 2005 and is still operating as of September 2011.