Family Support & Prevention

February 2019


Award covers outreach and family planning, parent/caregiving empowerment and provisional Flexible Funds to assist vulnerable communities

United Way of Greater Union County (UWGUC), a social services not-for-profit organization that focuses on providing health and human services resources for residents throughout Union County, recently announced that they’ve become the lead organization in overseeing the Family Support & Prevention Program (FSP), securing a grant to provide family support and prevention services to Union County families.

The Department of Children & Families of the State of New Jersey and the Union County Department of Human Services awarded the grant to UWGUC for the 2019 calendar year.  Funding provides support and prevention services that promote health and stability managed by three components: 1- outreach that identifies families in need, develops a plan to address health and education barriers and connects families to the necessary services; 2- Facilitates parent/caregiver empowerment that addresses educational issues for families with children ages 3-18 and provides technical assistance and support for parents to understand access to and utilization of services for their children and; 3-Flexible (FLEX) Funds to assist vulnerable at risk families with children who are facing crisis.

UWGUC has an extensive long-standing background in providing services similar to the FSP Grant Program.  In addition to providing leadership, coordination and delivery of services for the Flex Funds category for over 5 years, the organization manages a multitude of organizations providing several different program services to Union County residents.  These programs include Union County’s Emergency Food & Shelter Program, the Focus on Families Initiative, Community Development Block Grant and serves as the lead agency for the Youth Employment Pathways Program (YEPP).  “We take a holistic approach to the barriers residents face.  Barriers such as homelessness, the high cost of child care, food insecurity and other crisis situations that so often prohibit families from achieving their goals,” said James Horne, President & CEO at United Way of Greater Union County.  But with our work and the work of our funded partners, we have been able to reduce and/or eliminate them entirely.” he added.

In a study by the American Community Survey from the 2017 US Census Data, the poverty rate for children ages 0-17 in Union County is over 15%, compared to the state’s average of 13%.  In a 2017 study published by the Star Ledger, towns with the highest rate of poverty in the county are Plainfield (23%), Elizabeth (21%), Roselle (14%), Linden (10%), Hillside (12%) and Rahway (6%). In education, 14% of the Union County population do not have a high school diploma and 21% of the adult population lack literacy skills.

Within its first year, UWGUC expects to assist nearly 500 families in one or more areas of the funded priorities. “Our goal is to provide targeted outreach to at-risk Union County families, develop a plan to address their health and educational needs, assist with technical and support services that empower parents and caregivers and assist vulnerable families facing imminent crisis,” said Juanita Vargas, VP Programs and Operations at United Way of Greater Union County.  As lead, the organization has developed a collaborative system of services to eight specialized partners strategically placed in those targeted areas and, includes bilingual/Spanish services to reduce barriers.  One additional partner will provide training and activities for parents and caregivers that will disseminate those services throughout the County.  Organizations participating in the partnership are: the Hillside Family Success Center (Hillside), The Connection for Women and Families (Summit), Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless (Elizabeth), Family CDC (Linden), the Rahway Community Action Organization (Rahway), Second Street Youth Center (Plainfield), Parents for Partners, Inc. (Union County) and United Way of Greater Union County as lead and providing services to the Roselle community and Union County.

For more information, persons may contact the United Way office at 908.353.7171.

About United Way of Greater Union County (UWGUC)

United Way of Greater Union County provides critical resources to children and families in need throughout greater Union County, North Plainfield and South Plainfield.  The organization works to improve lives and build strong communities, by focusing on key areas in education, income stability, health and family strengthening. UWGUC is a pre-eminent community based leader, partner and investment choice in these communities.  More information about United Way of Greater Union County’s work in the community can be found online at