Too many of America’s working, low-income families are one crisis or one paycheck away from poverty. The daily stresses they endure cause harmful long-term effects, particularly for children. We shouldn’t expect families’ stress levels to get to a breaking point before we offer them tools that could transform their lives and achieve stability.
This can be changed by applying the Whole Family Approach.


Although families are made up of individuals, each member’s challenges and successes are interdependent. The Whole Family Approach is a family-led strategy which provides adults and children with the tools to set, plan for, and achieve their goals together. When the whole family works together to support each other’s goals, long-term change, stability and well-being become a reality.

The Whole Family Approach is preventive rather than crisis-driven. Ensuring a family has access to the tools to reach their goals and stay out of poverty has far better long-term benefits than intervening once they are already in poverty.

There are four components that are critical to the successful implementation of the Whole Family Approach:

Two dependable adult caregivers must be actively engaged with the children in the family. At least one must be working or able to work.
Families must develop plans with long- and short-term goals.
A team of agencies must partner with family to reach their goals.
Collaborating agencies must meet regularly to collectively manage family plans, share data, and synchronize efforts.

Whole Family Approach

The Whole Family Approach is effective in a range of settings — rural, urban, and suburban — and enables families to work together in realizing any number of goals ranging from education, to financial stability, health, and relationship building.

The Whole Family Approach is best implemented through a mission-driven collaborative model where multiple agencies come together to provide services. Learn how the grantees of the Pascale Sykes Foundation have successfully implemented this Approach here.

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