Our Living Data
A look at our numbers and the stories behind the data illustrate that allowing families the space and support to exercise control and choice in their lives produces significant results. And as families make progress in their lives, their sense of self-determination increases. FII’s approach rewards initiative and strengthens family and community. The impressive improvements created by FII families go hand in hand with securing a stronger social network and a greater sense of agency over their lives.
Progress Is Contingent On Choice and Control
The remarkable measurable progress that we document occurs because families set and work on their own priorities without direction from staff. FII’s approach increases family members’ sense of choice and control, allowing them to seize opportunities and take care of problems as they see fit. We hear repeatedly from families that the strengthening of people’s agency is the bedrock for other changes. It is because people feel more in control that they are able to make progress.
No One Does It Alone
There are numerous studies documenting the power of social networks to help us lose weight or quit smoking. Having a group of friends who can cheer you on, listen, commiserate, offer support and advice, help you, and hold you accountable makes change more likely and sustainable. Our data corroborates these studies. Family members consistently report that the mutual support they experience in the group meetings is of immeasurable value. FII’s process strengthens community and sets a stage for them to lock elbows as they move forward together.
Tools for Self-Reflection Help
Our data-tracking system is itself a tool that catalyzes change. Families have said that logging on every month and answering the same series of questions about a broad range of areas in their lives helps them think about what they are doing (or not doing). Tracking their progress inspires families to stay on their path up. Like a dieter keeping a food journal, the data-tracking system helps families stay focused on goals.
Progress Happens Where There’s Room For It
While there is consistent improvement at every Demonstration, we’ve seen that regional economic and social circumstances greatly impact what families can or will accomplish. For instance, the high cost of living in Hawaii and San Francisco have made homeownership significantly less viable for families in those cities than in Oakland where costs were more reasonable.