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

Next page: List of participating collaboratives