Evaluation of Pascale Sykes’ South Jersey Strengthening Families Initiative

From 2012 to 2022, WRI conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the implementation of the Pascale Sykes Foundation’s Strengthening Families Initiative across multiple nonprofit interagency collaborations in Southern New Jersey. This Initiative was centered on The Whole Family Approach, a preventative, family-led strategy that provided adults and children tools to set, plan for, and achieve goals together. Collaborating agencies worked together with families to develop long- and short-term goals. WRI’s evaluation of the Initiative included:

  • A longitudinal, quasi-experimental evaluation of families’ changes in forming healthy relationships, child well-being, and financial stability.
  • A process evaluation to understand how the Whole Family Approach was implemented across collaboratives, including observations, interviews, focus groups, and document review.
  • Multiple focused evaluations that examine the impact of the Initiative in areas of interest including, student social, emotional, and behavioral growth, service delivery, family-community partner relationship development, and the cultural responsiveness of the Whole Family Approach.
Strengthening Families InitiativeWhole Family ApproachPascale Sykes Foundation

The Strengthening Families Initiative, funded by the Pascale Sykes Foundation, brought together social service organizations to offer holistic programming and community supports for families in Southern New Jersey.

From 2012 to 2022, the Initiative:

  • Funded 18 “collaboratives” formed by groups of social service organizations working together in their communities
  • Engaged thousands of families across Atlantic, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties
  • Funded programming targeting healthy relationships, financial stability, and child well-being

The Pascale Sykes Foundation’s mission since 1992 had been to build strong families by advocating for and funding innovative, holistic social and economic programs that transform the lives of working, low-income families. The Foundation will be closing its doors at the end of December 2022. Please see its website for more information on its projects and research funded.

FindingsFocused Evaluations

Healthy relationships

  • Caregivers’ perception of social support from their family increased over time and when compared to the comparison group
  • At the beginning of the pandemic, families also reported consistent levels of resilience compared to those pre-pandemic, although these levels went down during the second year of COVID. 

Financial Stability

  • Increased health coverage over time
  • Fewer financial challenges (e.g. utilities, borrowing money) compared to the comparison group
  • Increased knowledge of financial strategies over time

Child Well-being

  • Caregivers’ awareness of children’s activities
  • Sustained positive relationships with children
  • Increase in academic aspirations and importance of education for children’s future over time


  • Collaboratives focused on the development of social networks first through their one-on-one relationship with families, and later through connecting families to community events and members whenever possible.

Executive Summary of the Ten-Year Strengthening Families Initiative Evaluation

South Jersey Strengthening Families Initiative: Final Evaluation Report 2012-2022

Strengthening Families Initiative Evaluation Semi-Annual Progress Report Summaries

WRI conducted four focused evaluations from 2018 through 2022 to examine specific areas of interest in which there were strong preliminary findings or a need for further research.

Child Connection Center


Whole Family Culturally Responsive Approach

Family Strengthening Network Evaluation 


WRI’s evaluation of the Strengthening Families Initiative was:

Mixed Methods

  • Quantitative data:
    • Surveys using validated scales in English and Spanish
    • Secondary data from reliable sources for region’s demographic and economic background
  • Qualitative data:
    • Interviews with families in English and Spanish
    • Focus groups with collaboratives


  • Family surveys every 6 months for 2 years
  • Ongoing observations at collaborative meetings and events
  • Data from 2012-2022


  • Longitudinal analysis for changes over time
  • Analysis of comparison group of families in the same region

Collaboratives Involved in the Evaluation

Interagency collaborations under the Strengthening Families Initiative were known as “collaboratives.” The following collaboratives participated in the evaluation:

1. Family Enrichment Network
Lead Agency: YMCA of Salem County
Years with the Initiative: July 2011–June 2018

2. Family Strengthening Network
Advocacy-driven collaborative centered on the use of comprehensive family plans to accomplish family-established goals and objectives. 
Lead Agency: CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties
Years with the Initiative: July 2013–June 2021

3. Child Connection Center
Child-centered, school-based collaborative focused on promoting positive youth development through services for students, parents, teachers, and school staff members. 
Lead Agency: Glassboro Education Foundation
Years with the Initiative: July 2013–June 2020

4. Stronger Families
Family-oriented collaborative that focuses on strengthening relationships between inmates and families.
Lead Agency: Temple Vision Corporation
Years with the Initiative: July 2014–June 2022

5. Unidos Para La Familia
Life skills driven collaborative that offers classes, community engagement programs, and workshops aimed at improving educational and employment outcomes for the immigrant, working-class community.
Lead Agency: Revive South Jersey
Years with the Initiative: July 2014–June 2021

6. South Jersey First Star Collaborative
Improves the well-being of foster youth in South Jersey through a program of academic enrichment and a core initiative of family strengthening efforts and community support. 
Lead Agency: First Star, Inc.
Years with the Initiative: July 2014–June 2021

7. Connecting Families to Communities
CF2C centers on assisting families in attaining self-sufficiency through community development, advocacy, and leadership. 
Lead Agency: Holly City Development Corporation 
Years with the Initiative: July 2015–June 2020

8. Families In Motion 
Supports families trying to improve their financial situation, lead healthier lives, and integrate with the community.
Lead Agency: Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey
Years with the Initiative: July 2016–June 2021

9. Families to College
Program that prepares youth and their caregivers for academic and career advancement through the enactment of individual and family action plans and the support of mentors. 
Lead Agency: Appel Farm Arts & Music Center
Years with the Initiative: July 2017–June 2022

10. Heart of South Jersey (formerly Heart of Gloucester County)
Lead Agency: People for People Foundation
Years with the Initiative: July 2011–June 2018

11. Fathers’ Care Network
Lead Agency: Women’s Center
Years with the Initiative: July 2011 –June 2014

12. Western Atlantic Parent Family Support Center (formerly The Network)
Lead Agency: Family Service Association
Years with the Initiative: July 2011–September 2016

13. Supportive Family Care
Lead Agency: Bethel Development Corporation
Years with the Initiative: July 2011–June 2013

14. South Jersey Families Re-Connected Coalition 
Lead Agency: Center for Human Services (CHS) 
Years with the Initiative: July 2011–June 2014

15. Connected Mentoring Advocacy (formerly Building Connections – Strengthening Families)
Lead Agency: Paulsboro Community Development Center
Years with the Initiative: July 2011–June 2013

16. Connected Families
Lead Agency: CompleteCare Health Network
Years with the Initiative: July 2014–November 2016

17. Greater Bridgeton Area Transit
Lead Agency: Gateway Community Action Plan (CAP)

18. English Creek – Tilton Road Community Shuttle
Lead Agency: Cross County Connection Transportation Management Association

List of all Published Reports