September 27, 2015  |  Insights

Families, Not Services, Lead Change

Mauricio Lim Miller, FII Founder and CEO
Mauricio Lim Miller, FII Founder and CEO

Every week at FII, we hear stories about the efforts thousands of people take to improve their lives, and help one another. At present, it is the embedded belief of many in the social sector that families need programs and policies to affect lasting change, and that the success of our FII families is the exception. In fact, the exact opposite is true. I have seen FII families accomplish more effective and sustained change without direction from FII staff, and more than I was able to accomplish for them when running social services programs for 20 years.

From time to time, we will share the stories of ordinary families and their accomplishments, resulting from encouragement and access to a just a fraction of what is spent on most programs and policies. These stories are not the exceptions, but the rule. They demonstrate that those most in need not only keep their lives together, but that they do so while still managing to clean our homes and tidy our lawns! These FII family stories convince me of the necessity to build supports based on what families initiate themselves, not programs designed by professionals.

We have learned that…

FII families can see what the families in any of our cities are doing, and become inspired to do something similar. They seek help and advice from one another. Expectations and patterns change, for the better.

Programs cannot replicate the innovation, ingenuity and cultural appropriateness of what families do for themselves. Further, programs cannot provide the ongoing emotional support that peers provide. In most of these stories, FII’s resources played a minimal role. People do these things because they “own” them and want to lead their own change.

Doesn’t everyone?

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