Family-Based Peer Support Groups

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New America Foundation:

"As part of the Family Independence Initiative, working poor families self-organize into peer support groups. They set personal goals for their families and obtain cash payments for reporting monthly progress, such as raising children’s grades, improving their credit score, or building their savings. Every month, participating families log onto an online reporting system to record what actions they took. They also meet monthly with their peer group to discuss their challenges and successes. Proponents of FII’s approach cite this combination of supportive social networks, consistent benchmarking of progress, and—most importantly—personalized paths out of poverty designed by the families themselves, as the key ingredients of the approach’s success.

In each of the Family Independence Initiative’s community demonstrations, participating families have made impressive strides. The Initiative’s leadership asserts that their approach is less costly than some traditional anti-poverty approaches, in part because most resources go directly to participating families rather than professional staff and overhead. At the outset, the total cost was $207 per person per month according to an external evaluation; now that the project is up and running, the per person monthly cost has declined to approximately $54.

While research on the Family Independence Initiative is limited, the initial findings compel policy makers and advocates to examine its philosophical underpinnings and its approaches, and consider how similar models could be implemented into state or national programs." (