Families Forward

There's no place like home

Irvine, CA   |  www.families-forward.org

Mission

Families Forward exists to help families in need achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through housing, food, counseling, education, and other support services. Since 1984, our guiding principle has been to link support with accountability by providing comprehensive tools and resources to families in crisis as they regain stability. Volunteers and in-kind donations of food are integral to our service delivery. Volunteers manage our food pantry, front desk and phone referral services. Funding is provided by individuals, families, corporations, foundations and government agencies. Working with and through the community, Families Forward provides safety-net services to families in crisis, assisting them as they work towards stability for their children.

Notes from the nonprofit

Families Forward is proud to share that we have earned Charity Navigator's top 4 Star rating for more than a decade, placing our agency among the top 2% of rated charities nationwide. Through Families Forward's careful management of resources, an extensive volunteer corps, and thousands of food and product donations, 93% of all financial contributions directly fund programs and services to client families.

Ruling year info

1985

Chief Executive Officer

Mrs. Madelynn Hirneise

Main address

8 Thomas

Irvine, CA 92618 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Irvine Temporary Housing

EIN

33-0086043

NTEE code info

Other Housing Support Services (L80)

Family Services (P40)

Housing Search Assistance (L30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Data collected by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition in 2019 indicates that Orange County needs approximately 112,996 more affordable housing units to keep up with the growing problem of cost of living increases and stagnant wages for low-income families. Researchers also estimate that a single parent must earn approximately $27.62 per hour or work 105 hours a week at minimum wage to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Orange County. Families Forward receives nearly 2,000 requests for assistance every year. Approximately 58% of these calls are from families at risk of homelessness and 42% are from families who are already sleeping in cars, storage units, and other spaces not meant for human habitation. Our hope is to ensure that these families avoid and overcome the reality of homelessness as they increase their earning potential and progress towards market-rate housing.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Housing Program

The Housing Program supports families in becoming stable and self-sufficient. Families experiencing homelessness are placed in one of Families Forward's 80+ owned or partner units*, helping to integrate each family into the neighborhood. Effort is made to place families in their preferred communities and school districts so that children’s lives maintain consistency and experience less disruption. Families budget and pay a portion of their income towards rent to reinforce fiscal responsibility and accountability. After addressing the immediate need of housing, families work with Case Managers to create individualized plans that help them meet their goals and address specific needs. Through a comprehensive array of services such as counseling, food, life-skills education and career coaching, families gain skills and access tools needed to make permanent changes and prevent future incidents of homelessness.

*Families Forward plans to reach 100 units by 2023.

Population(s) Served
Homeless people
Families

With the rising cost of housing and wages not keeping pace, Families Forward has continued to see high demand for assistance from families throughout the county. Since 1984, our Homeless Prevention programs have provided comprehensive support to low-income families who are at-risk of becoming, or are, homeless and assist them in achieving stability. Through Families Forward’s various safety-net services, at-risk families are given access to assistance such as our on-site food pantry, counseling, career coaching, and life skills education. Through the support of our dedicated and trained volunteers, Families Forward also provides individualized phone referrals to families seeking assistance if their needs cannot be met through Families Forward.

Population(s) Served
Homeless people
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Awards

2020 Nonprofit of the Year 2020

California Assembly District 74

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of households that obtain/retain permanent housing for at least 6 months

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Families, Homeless people

Related Program

Housing Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Includes COVID-19 homelessness prevention services.

Number of children and youth who have received access to stable housing

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Infants and toddlers, Children and youth

Related Program

Housing Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of people within the organization's service area accessing food aid

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Homeless Prevention Services

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Decreasing

Number of job skills training courses/workshops conducted

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Housing Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

In the 2017/2018 year, Families Forward moved to a one-on-one career coaching method and lessened the workshops. The metrics show the unduplicated individuals served through one-on-one and workshops

Total number of counseling sessions performed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Homeless Prevention Services

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

The Community Counseling program has seen this number of unduplicated individuals in a fiscal year. The actual number of sessions, is higher depending on the individual.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

More than 21,000 volunteer hours are contributed each year.

Number of clients served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This year, during the pandemic, we modified our food pantry to provide ingredients for meals to more than 12,000 Orange County residents in need.

Number of phone calls/inquiries

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This number includes phone call requests for services.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

We expect to achieve the following quantifiable outcomes):
1. 250 homeless Orange County families with minor age children (approximately 750 individuals) receive housing assistance
2. 85% of those served secure and maintain stable housing after program completion
3. 75% of parents increase/maintain their annual income to maintain stability for their children

Families Forward's Housing Program assists families in achieving self-sufficiency and housing stability with the aim of ending family homelessness in Orange County.

While our comprehensive Housing Program enables us to respond to the reality of family homelessness in Orange County, Families Forward acknowledges that any long-term solution to homelessness must include an increase in the overall supply of permanent affordable housing. Families Forward currently owns or has formalized access to 56 affordable unites with that number expected to double by 2023. This will assist Families Forward in achieving its goal of preventing and ending family homelessness in Orange County.

Families Forward's Housing Program provides housing and supportive services to families in Orange County with dependent children who are experiencing or at-risk of becoming homeless. Families Forward participates in the Orange County Continuum of Care (CoC), a public-nonprofit partnership that ensures a comprehensive, regional coordination of efforts and resources to prevent or end family homelessness.

Families Forward's Housing Intake Coordinator works through the CoC to assess a family's degree of vulnerability. Those who qualify are enrolled in the county-wide Coordinated Entry System (CES), prioritized according to need, and reassigned to various housing agencies within Orange County.

Families Forward is matched with families from the Coordinated Entry System. Each qualified family is assigned a care team that includes a family navigator, case manager, housing resource specialist and career coach. Those in need of emergency shelter receive up to one week of motel vouchers while Families Forward prepares an interim unit. Once in interim housing, the family works with their care team to locate a permanent housing solution and overcome barriers, such as unemployment, eviction history, or poor credit.

The Housing Program is designed to assist families for a short period of time, averaging 4-6 months, as they regain independence and take steps toward stability. During this time, families have access to a wide range of supportive services, including weekly food pantry visits, counseling, career coaching, school supplies in August, food for holiday meals and gifts leading up to the holidays. Clients who are rapidly rehoused into a permanent unit receive decreasing rental assistance and, after the family becomes economically self-sufficient, case managers continue to check in with the family for up to one year to ensure housing stability.

Families Forward has a diverse and experienced team that includes a 26-member board of directors, approximately 70 staff members, and 2,000 volunteers. Our team works with homeless families to identify goals and create individual plans that focus on a family's unique attributes and build accountability into their work toward stability. We address employment and incomes, encouraging clients to improve their financial situations and create a finance plan that will enable long-term success. By working with families to provide tools and a plan for the future, we create a stronger community for all of us. Families Forward successfully collaborates with many Orange County organizations that include Orange County United Way, Commission to End Homelessness, Children and Families Commission and many other partner agencies and foundations.

Providing supportive services to improve lives, Families Forward also reaches out to low-income families to help reduce the pressures that can cause homelessness and help families maintain stability. Through various safety-net services, clients are provided access to our on-site food pantry, counseling, career coaching, and financial and life skills education. The goal of the program is to help families recover from a financial crisis so they can maintain self-sufficiency.

In less than 5 years, Families Forward has grown the number of its available affordable housing units in Orange County from 27 to 56 to 88, enabling us to offer more long-term solutions for families transitioning from homelessness to affordable housing to market-rate housing rentals in Orange County. We've also expanded our landlord and developer partnerships that will lead to more available affordable housing units designated for homeless parents and children. These include Chelsea Investment Corporation's new apartment community that contains 10 units set aside for Extremely Low and Very Low Income (<50% AMI) homeless families and National Community Renaissance (CORE) with at least 10 designated units of affordable housing for income-qualifying homeless families.

Families Forward has also risen to the challenges presented by the pandemic, serving more than 12,000 people through our food pantry. We also increased our overall success rate for long-term family stability. Every year, the county-wide Continuum of Care evaluates Families Forward and other continuum partners to determine agency effectiveness in serving homeless individuals and families. The continuum determined that, of those who successfully exit homelessness in partnership with Families Forward, 98% did not re-enter the homeless service provider system and remained successfully housed one year later.

Families Forward additionally offers a Prevention program that serves as a model for others in the county. Our team of trained volunteers returns 100% of the calls received from families in a housing crisis. This team offers over-the-phone case management, referrals, and limited financial assistance designed to prevent families from entering homelessness and remain stably housed.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Families Forward was established in 1984 in Irvine, CA, to prevent or end family homelessness for low-income families who are at-risk of or are literally homeless. Families Forward integrates its services and employs a team approach to assisting clients. Families are assigned a family navigator, case manager, housing specialist, and career coach who work together to identify stable housing and other resources needed by the client to achieve a sustainable lifestyle. We additionally provide clients with health and mental health counseling, career coaching and access to our food pantry.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Case management notes, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email, 1:1 client feedback,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To inform our Strategic Plan, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Listening to feedback from our clients and staff, when COVID-19 began we implemented a care team approach to case management. This change allowed clients to meet with an assigned team comprised of a family navigator, case manager, housing resource specialist and a career coach who work together to assist clients in becoming safely housed while identifying resources that help families achieve stability and sustainability with finances, employment, health and mental health, childcare and transportation. Access to each of the resources mentioned was previously available; however, the care team approach provides clients with a staff team coordinated effort that is expected to remain in place post-pandemic.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners, Program Committee, Collaborative Partners (SFSC and FSC),

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Two current board members have lived experiences and unique perspectives that contribute to the broader decisions of program focus and organizational guidance. Current and former clients serve as spokespersons for Families Forward, in interviews with the media to encourage parents experiencing homelessness to reach out. Our anonymous digital client survey provides feedback about the success of our programs and staff. We are currently reviewing and revising the survey form, as we do every few years, to ensure that the survey and questions provide relevant, valuable feedback.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time, It is difficult to get honest feedback from the people we serve, Some clients are in crisis and not in a position to share their story.,

Financials

Families Forward
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Families Forward

Board of directors
as of 2/28/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Robert Davis

HNTB Corporation

Term: 2020 - 2022

Gary Cohn

Marx|Okubo

Mark Henigan

Irvine Company

Robert Davis

HNTB Corporation

Mark Harryman

Unire Real Estate Group

Trish Scarborough

Community Leader

David Snow

Distinguished Professor, University of California, Irvine

Bradley Comp

Ayco, A Goldman Sachs Company

Ryan Warne-McGaw

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Mark Engstrom

Deloitte & Touche LLP

Sherry Benjamins

S. Benjamins & Co.

Jon Radus

Fullerton Police Department

Alex Razo

Wells Fargo

Debbie Thomsen

Community Volunteer

Lorri Torres

Parcel Pending

Victor Cao

California Apartment Association

Karin Pearson

Capital Group

Martha Bayer

Community Leader

Tristen Cali

Pacific Premier Bank

Nancy Chase

Community Leader

Dennis Deslatte

Community Leader

Peter Hering

Rutan & Tucker, LLP

Anna Mendoza

Tierra Development Advisors

Nicholas Meraz

Community Leader

Kitty Shen

Community Leader

Dr. Vinita Speir

Pacific Women's Healthcare Associates

Debbie Thomsen

Community Leader

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 12/21/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/29/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
Policies and processes
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.