Sonoma County Strengthening Families Network: A Whole Family Approach

by Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County

Region 9 · Santa Rosa, CA
A woman and five children smiling


The Sonoma County Strengthening Families Network is an alliance of several County Family Resource Centers (FRCs). This initiative streamlines how low-income people access public and private resources by better understanding the roles of each service entity and sharing a common context of the Whole Family Approach across the County.

The initiative actively builds collective impact and strengthens the partners’ efforts to mitigate long-term negative impacts for low-income families. Our current internal strategy uses the five gears of the Whole Family Approach and an enhanced family-centered coaching model at the Family Resource Center. The Whole Family Approach can be a long-term solution to poverty mitigation caused by disasters, pandemics, or inequitable policies.

Local Need Addressed

The October 2017 North Bay wildfires were the most destructive and devastating disaster that Sonoma County has ever experienced. The fires destroyed 5,300 homes in Sonoma County and damaged 7,776 more structures, displacing over 100,000 people. Thousands of families lost homes, property, pets, and in some tragic cases, loved ones, to the wildfires.

There are also hundreds of thousands of residents who, although they may not have lost their home, were profoundly impacted. The grief from the loss and destruction of homes, businesses and entire Santa Rosa neighborhoods continues to be felt by the victims’ teachers, friends, classmates, co-workers, relatives, and the community at large.

  • These devastating events came with a silver lining: the need for community members to address recovery efforts together.
  • During the same time as the first set of wildfires struck, Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County began our two-year Community-Wide Needs Assessment.
  • The top two concerns for families in poverty were the high cost of housing and access to affordable childcare. Families stated both of these areas led to family instability and uncertainty.

Transformative Impact


Mobilizes families to successfully respond to challenges through four Family Resource Centers across the county


Creates a hub for the family support and safety net systems that exist, improves access to resources, and empowers families to become self-sufficient.


Provides opportunities for and meets the needs of children and their parents together, building education, economic assets, social capital, health, and well-being to create a legacy of economic security that passes from one generation to the next.

Evidence-Based Outcomes

The FRCs utilizes Protective Factors Framework. Strengthening Families is a research-informed approach developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) to increase family strengths, enhance child development, and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. It is based on engaging families, programs, and communities in building five key Protective Factors: Parental resilience; social connections; knowledge of parenting and child development; concrete support in times of need; and social and emotional competence of children.

Customer Voice

The initiative has used customer satisfaction data to ensure the customer’s voice is valued and a part of the program implementation, in three main areas:

  • Community Needs Assessment. The FRC holds several classes that were able to collect satisfaction surveys as well and conduct listening interviews.
  • Listen for Good. CAP Sonoma worked with other partners in the community to implement an initiative called Listening for Good. Listen for Good (L4G) is an initiative dedicated to building the practice of listening to the people we seek to help. L4G is focused on applying a semi-standard survey instrument, which includes using the Net Promoter System (NPS®) employed widely in customer feedback circles, to the nonprofit beneficiary context.
  • Participant Internship project. CAP Sonoma created an intern-based program for participants who were unable to enter the traditional work field due to immigration status.  Some participants who had graduated from leadership classes then became teaching assistants. Some interns were using the program to revere credits at the local institutions, some just wanted to build their skill set.

Equity Lens

The CAP Sonoma Resource Center is based in the hub of the largest city and serves low-income Spanish-speaking families primarily with children 0-5. Ninety-five of the participants identify as Latinx families. CAP Sonoma has always been deeply rooted in Latinx communities, providing outreach, education, and advocacy to local leaders.

In order to truly understand the systemic inequities CAP Sonoma hires culturally competent staff and gives them the tools needed to equitably serve the participants. Staff at the FRC participated in a leadership development program specifically for Latinx direct service staff; a cohort-based leadership development program that supports emerging leaders in building knowledge, clarity, and strength at the personal, interpersonal, and professional levels.



Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County

141 Stony Cir, Ste 210
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Phone: (707) 544-6911
Email: [javascript protected email address]

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