People First: Outreach Center for Community Resources seeks to improve families’ lives

Chamber News

It’s a story whose outcome could have been much different.

Two high school seniors had a child together and sought the aid of Scranton-based Outreach Center for Community Resources. As part of the center’s Parents as Teachers program, they learned parenting skills and were given the tools and support they needed to stay in school. Now, both parents are employed, and the child’s mother has enrolled in a local community college.

“This outcome was critically important,” said Kristin Cianfichi, Director of Community Outreach and Resource Development. “It disrupts the cycle of poverty and ensures the child has an opportunity for success in school late on.”

Founded in 1988 as EOTC (Employment Opportunity Training Center), Outreach’s main mission is to help families thrive by helping them become stable and economically self-sufficient. This happens through offering resources for life skills, literacy, employment training, parenting, early childhood education, youth mentoring, and wrap-around case management, among others, affecting the lives of more than 5,000 families in our region.

“We put respect for the individual first because we firmly believe that everyone who comes to Outreach deserves to be treated with respect and dignity,” Cianfichi said. “Our program participants are more than statistics—they are individuals with hopes, dreams, and fears. We meet each participant where he or she is in life and work together to devise plans to achieve the skills and tools needed to move toward stability and economic self-sufficiency.

As a state-designated local Family Center, Outreach provides programs addressing the family as a unit, such as the evidence-based Parents as Teachers initiative and Incredible Years, which help individuals develop positive and healthy parenting skills, removing risk factors, such as harsh or inconsistent discipline, all with the goal of helping children grow. It also collaborates with other local organizations, such as the Wright Center and the Treatment Court Advocacy Center of Lackawanna County, to provide life skills courses and other wrap-around programs to those battling opioid use, or substance use disorders.

“In one case, a man received his GED through our class at the Lackawanna County Prison,” Cianfichi said. “After he re-entered our community, he enrolled in college and earned his bachelor’s degree. He is now preparing to apply to law school.”

“We find that people want to help themselves,” she continued. “Our programs just give them the much-needed boost to set them on a course to achieve their goals. Everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed. This is what motivates us to we do what we do.”

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