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Where you live in Wards 7 and 8 could mean more access to government programs

Families First DC is an initiative by Mayor Muriel Bowser focused on families in Wards 7 and 8.

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the DC Child and Family Services Agency announced the opening of 10 Family Success Centers in targeted neighborhoods in Wards 7 and 8. Where will they be located and how will they benefit those communities? The #QandA team is here with those answers.

The program is called Families First DC. Mayor Bowser said it’s a neighborhood-based approach that aims to create more pathways to the middle class for families in the district. 

"These centers represent the District's commitment to making each neighborhood a place where families can thrive and where everyone in our great city gets a fair shot at success," Kim Ford, president of Martha's Table, said. 

Martha's Table is one of several partner locations within the Families First DC program. 

There are 10 communities between Wards 7 and 8 where Family Success Centers will be established. According to Bowser, the centers will provide government services in a way that is more approachable to the people that live there.

Credit: WUSA9
Families First DC program map

"Whether it’s help with other family issues, whether the children need help at school, whether there are employment issues, all of those things can be best delivered from trusted community partners in the community," Bowser said. 

That’s why Bowser and the DC Child and Family Services Agency say they created the grant-based program in the first place. They aim to provide funding to community-based organizations so they can provide the specific services requested by their residents.

"On this beautiful terrace, we will be able to have art and yoga," Ford said. "In our partner hallway we’re going to be able to bring in important health screenings and financial coaching for families in this neighborhood." 

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Q: Why were these communities selected?

A: According to Bowser, the 10 communities were selected based on health data, violence prevention priority areas, and substantiated reports on child abuse and neglect.

Q: How can families get involved and be a part of the decision-making process within the Family Success Centers?

A: According to CFSA, each neighborhood will establish a Community Advisory Council consisting of residents and stakeholders in those communities. Together, they’ll get to select the services offered at their Family Success Centers.

Rachel Dennis is a native Washingtonian who has lived in both Wards 7 and 8. She said the Family Success Center at Marth’s Table helped her get through this pandemic.

"They helped with cash assistance, they helped with food, they helped with clothing, resources with mental health and...to be able to have a home for me and my son," she said. 

All of the services and programs provided by the government through the Family Success Centers will be provided to community members regardless of immigration status.

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