Who We Are

Family Connects International (FCI) comprises a team of experts from across the early childhood field, including public-health professionals, research scientists, data analysts, health care providers, and policy analysts. We are a partnership of Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy and the Center for Child & Family Health.

FCI is the home of the Family Connects model. Our team brings together policy engagement, innovative research, and dissemination expertise to assist local and state governments, health-care systems, and nonprofit organizations successfully implement the model in communities across the country.

We are dedicated to improving early childhood systems of care.

History

The story of Family Connects is a story of community efforts to improve the health and well-being of all families with young children.

In 2001, representatives of The Duke Endowment challenged Kenneth Dodge, the founding director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy, to discover a way to improve child outcomes in Durham — specifically, to reduce the rate of child abuse and neglect in the first years of life.

The Duke team worked with local Durham families, community partners, and local stakeholders for more than six years to inform the development of the program. They also looked at evidence and learned about home visiting programs around the world, from as far away as New Zealand to our neighbors in Guilford County, NC. In Guilford County, a decades-old nurse home visiting program gave helpful insight into how home visiting could be successful in North Carolina.

Because child abuse occurs for different reasons across different families, the Duke team, in collaboration with Durham community partners, decided the best way to prevent child maltreatment and help children in Durham get a good start would be to support all families from the very beginning, regardless of their circumstances.

The Family Connects model was ultimately developed in partnership with Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy, the non-profit Center for Child & Family Health, and the Durham County Health Department. The first version was piloted in 2008 in Durham, North Carolina, and was known as Durham Connects. The program has been tested in two rigorous randomized controlled trials and a field quasi-experiment, the results of which have been published in highly-regarded journals. With the publication of positive evaluation findings, communities around the country have reached out for training and technical assistance to implement the program.

When the program spread to communities outside of Durham, the name was changed to Family Connects. Subsequently, Duke University created Family Connects International to coordinate the research, policy and implementation of the model nationally.