Research on the Impact of the Whole Family Approach

Whole Family Approach Final Results

The Whole Family Approach, a family-led strategy which provides adults and children with the tools to set, plan for, and achieve their goals together, was studied in both rural and urban settings. The research conducted by the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs and Drive Evaluation Studios included a 10-year longitudinal study and an 18-month evaluation. The research results of both studies can be found here.

The Whole Family Approach partnered Rutgers-Camden Research Center to evaluate the implementation of the Whole Family by the Strengthening Network. Findings include high levels of relationship quality with their family advocate, high levels of perceived social support, and high levels of interpersonal belonging.

The Pascale Sykes Foundation implemented the Whole Family Approach in 16 different collaborative nonprofit organizations across Southern New Jersey. The Whole Family Approach focuses on supporting families with two dependable adult caregivers through individualized goal setting, organizational collaboration, and consistent personal supports to families. Over a ten-year period, the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs (WRI) evaluated the impact of the Whole Family Approach as implemented in rural South Jersey, focused on financial stability, healthy relationships and physical/social/emotion wellness as indicators of individual and family well-being. The Walter Rand Institute evaluation revealed numerous significant positive impacts, among which are:

  1. The first adult caregiver reported a significant improvement in children’s educational outcomes and experiences.
  2. The second caregiver reported significantly reduced financial challenges and stress.
  3. Both caregivers saw a significant increase in the help given and received in their relationship.

COVID Impacts, Supporting Collaboratives: A Qualitative Evaluation of Collaboratives’ Work with the Whole Family Approach During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to the dual shock of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic hardship, collaboratives long-engaged with the Whole Family Approach adapted their work and their outreach to meet emergent needs. This research by the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs (WRI) examines the range of responses collaboratives have implemented to mitigate the impacts of this pandemic on the families and communities they serve.

Evaluation of the Whole Family Approach in Urban Settings

With funding from the Pascale Sykes Foundation, a research team at the University of Pennsylvania and later at Drive Evaluation Studio collected survey data from 138 families served by two collaboratives applying the Whole Family Approach in the New York City metro area — Familia Adelante in the South Bronx, and Families for Literacy in Jersey City, NJ. The research captures changes from December 2018 to June 2019 among these families. The full report will be available soon. While the program implementation is ongoing, and it is too early to report outcome data, early analysis reveals promising trends:

  1. Child well-being is improving with young people expressing optimism and a sense of agency about their future.
  2. Relationships between parents and children are improving.
  3. Adult well-being is improving, particularly mental health.
  4. Feelings of financial competence are increasing. Parents, especially women, feel more confident in their ability to effectively manage money.

COVID-19 Whole Family Approach Impact Research

In early 2020, the emergence of COVID-19 drastically and fundamentally changed the organization of social and economic life in the United States. For approximately six weeks in April and May, the research team at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice (UPenn) gathered data describing the impact of the Whole Family Approach as applied by two social service collaboratives in the New York City metro area: Familia Adelante in the South Bronx and Families for Literacy in Jersey City, NJ. UPenn conducted a series of interviews across both collaboratives to understand the specific challenges faced by the collaboratives and their responses to these challenges using the Whole Family Approach within the urban landscape.

Evaluation of the Child Connection Center

From 2013 to 2019, the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs (WRI) evaluated the outcomes of the Child Connection Center (CCC), a collaboration dedicated to working with caregivers, students, teachers and other resources to help students reach their full potential. A former grantee of the Pascale Sykes Foundation, CCC used the Whole Family Approach to enable children to reach their full potential academically, socially and emotionally. The collaboration understood that financial stability, relationships and well-being are intertwined and influence students’ ability to learn. Using family plans and consistent, coordinated efforts among parents, teachers and students, children and caregivers succeed.

Evaluation of programming in three elementary schools showed significant improvements in children’s academic achievement and classroom behavior, caregivers’ and children’s’ health, as well as adults’ relationships as a result of the Whole Family Approach.


  • Students significantly improved their math and language arts grades and improvements lasted over time
  • Caregivers and teachers saw a significant reduction in social and emotional behavioral difficulties at home and in the classroom
  • Caregivers reported significantly improved mental and physical health
  • Caregivers reported increased social/emotional support given to and received from other adult family members.