The South Orange County (SOC) Family Resource Center (FRC) in Lake Forest places a strong emphasis on supporting and strengthening families by educating them and making resources available to them. Their focus areas are Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, and the smaller surrounding areas. The FRC is very excited to provide these services in this specific area because there aren’t as many resources available to families, like in other cities. However, this does not mean they would reject services to someone residing in a different area. They also work on promoting unity among the members of their community. They are one of 15 FRCs that are funded by the county and are a partnership with Mission Hospital, Human Options, Children’s Bureau, and The Raise Foundation.
We had the pleasure of speaking to Ana Fernandez, the SOC FRC coordinator. Her role in the FRC is to make sure that the center is doing their part in the community, and that they provide the services they promote. Some of the core resources this FRC provides are information and referral, parenting classes, crisis counseling, case management, personal empowerment programs, and mental health counseling. The FRC also makes it easier for families to apply for services such as Medi-Cal and Obamacare by having a social worker on site once a week. Aside from keeping their resources on track, Ana also coordinates the parenting classes, creates outreach campaigns, and strives to make connections with other community based organizations to create new partnerships.
Mental health counseling provided by Mission Hospital is a popular core service in the SOC FRC. The FRC has three staff dedicated to the mental health services and five interns with master’s degrees in Social Work and Family Therapy. They focus on helping the families that have barriers such as: not being able to find a Spanish speaking therapist, not able to afford services, and/or the services are too far from where they live and they do not have transportation. It is difficult for many families to access this service and SOC FRC is dedicated to making it available.
The FRC has a volunteer group called Community Engagement Advisory Council (CEAC) comprised of adults from the local community. This program is designed to foster unity in the community utilizing the volunteers to advise on key needs in their local neighborhoods. The opportunity provides volunteers great leadership skill building and as some have shared – a greater sense of ownership for the community where they live. This group is led by a dedicated Raise Foundation staff member. This group works as advocates for the FRC. The goal is to have a group that has received services at the FRC and has survived and learned from the crisis. The group is composed of passionate people that can develop peer relationships with victims by letting them know that they can help them overcome what they went through themselves. These advocates are taught about domestic violence, and how to determine the difference between discipline and child abuse, among other things.
The SOC FRC is glad to announce that in January 2017 they will be moving to this new building. The location is less than half a mile away from the old location. Their new address is 22481 Aspan St., Lake Forest, CA, 92630. This opportunity will give the FRC the opportunity to expand. The new location is a 10,000 square feetbuilding that will contain two classrooms, nine offices for face-to-face meetings, a conference room, a work room, cubicles, and a playroom for childcare. This will allow them to have more space for future services provided by new partnerships.Making this site all the more helpful for families-in-need, right next to the building there is a community health clinic, which has other services like dental, optometry, and a Women, Infants and Children (WIC) center. The FRC’s hope is that having the community clinic next door will encourage even more families to make use of the Center as well.
Should you know of any family struggling in south Orange County, please refer them to the SOC FRC. The friendly staff will be there to help. It’s one of the best gifts you can give them!
Editor’s Note – This article researched and written by Cal State University Fullerton (CSUF) students as part of a class project.