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TFCC Program Highlight: Family & Youth Services Team

Tillamook Family & Youth Services Team (FYST) partners with more than 20 local organizations to provide comprehensive support and resources to families navigating difficult transitions or circumstances. Community partners refer families to the program, which then helps them set and achieve their goals through personalized Family Action Plans. By leveraging community resources and providing direct support, FYST empowers families to overcome adversity and build brighter futures.

The program’s roots can be traced back to over 15 years ago when Marlene Putman, who had experienced a similar program elsewhere, brought the idea to Tillamook County as part of the Commission on Children and Families. Since it began, FYST has aimed to assist around 50 families or 300 individuals annually.

Community Impact and Successes

Melonie Ferguson, the FYST Program Coordinator, has witnessed firsthand the transformative impact the program has had on families in our community. “We’ve received feedback from the families we have worked with that they truly appreciate the sense that we care and the non-judgmental approach we take,” Melonie shared.

One success story involves a single father whose mobile home lost heat due to storm damage. Through FYST’s efforts, local retailers donated the necessary parts, enabling the family to restore their heating system and regain warmth in their home. Another remarkable case involved a family of four who had experienced homelessness and even temporary loss of custody of one child. Working with the family several times over the course of five, FYST helped the family overcome adversity, secure stable housing, and ultimately reunite the family.

About Melonie Ferguson, Program Coordinator

Melonie Ferguson’s family portrait

Melonie Ferguson has dedicated to FYST for 14 years. Coming from a working-class background in Lake Oswego, Melonie moved to Tillamook County 31 years ago. She has firsthand experience with poverty, having been a single mother who faced similar challenges. Melonie’s journey into poverty work began at age 50 after running a cleaning business and working in schools. Her passion for helping families stems from both her education and personal experiences, making her a compassionate and effective advocate for those she serves.

Process & Community Partnerships

At the core of FYST’s approach is the development of personalized Family Action Plans. To qualify, a family must reside in Tillamook County, have a child or be expecting a child in the home, and express a desire to participate. Once a referral is received, FYST contacts the family within 10 days to conduct an initial assessment. Goals are set based on the family’s strengths and needs, and an action plan is created to outline the steps required to achieve these goals. Regular follow-ups ensure that families stay on track and receive ongoing support.

FYST’s community collaborators include the school districts, government agencies, medical professionals, housing organizations, and many others. . “Our partnerships are crucial,” Ferguson emphasizes. “A team can accomplish far more than any individual organization. It’s a source of referrals, resources, and support for our families.” These partnerships not only expand the range of services available but also provide a supportive network for families. The school districts are particularly vital, as they provide unique access to children and families in need. Partnerships with entities such as CARE, Head Start, and TFCC’s Wraparound program enhance FYST’s ability to provide comprehensive support. By working together, these organizations create a robust network that ensures families receive the help they need.

Challenges and Future Goals

Despite their best efforts, Ferguson acknowledges that challenges persist, particularly regarding the lack of affordable housing and the difficulty in reaching families. The demand for housing in Tillamook County far exceeds supply, with approximately 2,400 households in need. Many families live in remote areas with limited access to phone and internet services, further complicating efforts to provide support. Additionally, the program operates on a limited budget, making it difficult to meet the growing needs of the community. However, the program remains committed to its mission. Melonie is committed to keeping FYST active and thriving at TFCC. She is passionate about serving OHP clients and understands the critical importance of addressing basic needs like food and shelter so families can focus on long-term goals.

The FYST program has had a positive impact on individuals and families in Tillamook County. When the Commission on Children and Families was dissolved in 2013, TFCC’s Executive Director, Frank Hanna Williams, and the board made a commitment to sustain FYST. Melonie expresses deep gratitude for this support, which has allowed the program to continue making a positive difference for the families served.