Family Futures Downeast (FFD) is a one-year program that creates access to post-secondary and employment opportunities for parents with young children in Washington County, Maine. FFD was designed using a two-generational approach that combines post-secondary education and workforce development with high-quality early education for FFD children. The program utilizes services and supports required for the participants to succeed, including transportation and technology resources, a personally relevant and stimulating curriculum with access to appropriate educational remediation, and strong emotional, social, and career pathway supports. These strategies significantly increase the number of low-income parents who can enroll in college in Washington County and who leverage education as a pathway to self-sufficiency.
FFD intentionally removes the economic, cultural, and logistical barriers that make going to college difficult for many parents so they can thrive as students. Within the program, they will gain the confidence and the ability to pursue educational and career goals, just as their children will benefit from outstanding, high-quality early education at campus-based centers. Students apply and enroll at the University of Maine at Machias or Washington County Community College.
The program changes outcomes for parents, their children, and the institutions and organizations that partner to make it a success. Using local and national expertise and best practices, FFD combines rigorous post-secondary and early learning programs with comprehensive social, emotional, and financial supports in a whole family approach.
FFD was designed collaboratively by Washington County academic and social service professionals with substantial input from potential participants. The collaboration began by acknowledging the profound challenges participants need to overcome in order to succeed in college. FFD parents come with a legacy of generations of poverty, trauma, exposure to violence, substance abuse, and addiction, and often a profound loss of hope generated by those experiences. FFD’s 360-degree supports help to ensure students’ basic needs are met and combine with intensive, structured coaching that builds skills and gives parents the opportunity to imagine and pursue the future they want for themselves and their children.
FFD relies on a combination of public and private resources in order to sustain this exciting opportunity for Washington County families. Designated as one of ten Rural IMPACT sites through the White House Rural Council, FFD offers nationally recognized strategies and practices for helping families succeed.