Front Porch Project

What the Front Porch Project® (FPP) is About

If you’ve ever seen a parent “losing their cool” with a child in a store or restaurant, if you’ve ever wondered if a child in your neighborhood is being supervised and cared for – you are not alone. These concerns, and others, are what the Front Porch Project® is all about.

FPP is a community-based primary prevention initiative based on the belief that everyone can – and should – become more aware of how to help protect children and support families in their own community. It provides ordinary citizens with the knowledge, training and encouragement they need to become involved in preventing abuse and neglect before it occurs. Often, after the death of a child due to abuse or neglect, neighbors and community members ask, “Is there anything I could have done to help?” and look for ways that they might safely have intervened to protect the child before the tragedy occurred.

FPP is built upon the belief that all people who are concerned about the safety and well-being of children should be encouraged and taught how to make a difference. This concept – and the name of the program – is much the same as a good neighbor sitting on the “front porch” in years past, who would have been aware of and helpful in solving problems affecting families they knew. American front porches were more than convenient sitting places; they served as networking centers where concerned friends could share information and create support systems to help each other through difficult times.

Download the Front Porch Project Brochure

How the Front Porch Project Works

PA Family Support Alliance partners with local organizations to offer FPP sessions across the state. It is an interactive, fun mix of discussion, video clips and activities that encourages learning and community building. The training is offered in several different formats, usually six hours presented on one day. An in-depth two-day version is also available, as well as refresher sessions and online discussions.

The Front Porch Project offers a comprehensive look at why people do (and don’t) get involved when they are concerned about a child. The training teaches you to:

  • Identify when and how to get involved in situations involving a child.
  • Increase your comfort level with intervening in those situations.
  • Identify and develop comfort with a range of parenting approaches.
  • Think of possible responses, interventions and problem-solving strategies.
  • Identify “roadblocks” to intervening and find ways around them to safely intervene.
  • Understand the impact that culture, gender and socioeconomic status can have on parenting and on actions to intervene on behalf of children.
  • Increase your awareness of importance of prevention in helping to protect children and support families.
  • Reach out to others in your community to protect children and support families.

FPP training is not a “one size fits all” approach; we don’t tell you what to do in any given situation. Instead, we help you to think through situations you have encountered and decide on a response that feels right for you. We provide an opportunity for you to share ideas with other people in your community and practice strategies for stepping in to help. You will leave with real-world examples and concrete steps to take when something “just doesn’t seem right” with a child in your neighborhood, place of worship or public place.

How Do We Know the Front Porch Project is effective?

The teaching methods we use and the concepts we cover are based on solid research conducted by the University of Denver. Our FPP sessions are part of an ongoing national evaluation conducted by the Butler Institute for Families at the University of Denver. We also conduct our own evaluations at the end of each session, and at intervals of six months and one year later.

Cumulative results of the evaluations show that 95% of participants in the Front Porch Project® community training agreed that they feel more comfortable intervening with struggling parents or families. The percentage of participants who say they actually will step in to help increases, on average, from 32% to 87% following training. The percentage of participants who say they would never intervene when concerned about a child decreases from 27% to 0. Virtually all participants (99%) said that the training was useful and they would recommend it to someone else.

To learn more, download the complete report on our program delivery and outcomes for the first four years of the project (2011-2015).

Front Porch Project Can Come To Your Community

We partner with many kinds of local groups to offer FPP in their communities – faith-based organizations, schools, neighborhood watch/community development programs and many others have sponsored FPP sessions. Often, the training is offered at no charge to the community (there is never a charge to individuals who want to attend) and there are just a few basic things that local groups must provide. We’re flexible in working with groups to arrange dates and times, help with recruitment of participants and other logistics. FPP can be adapted for the needs of your community.

Read about the Front Porch Project across the state - CoudersportEastonJohnstown, Pottsville and Bethlehem, for example.

If you would like more information on sponsoring a Front Porch Project session in your community, this information sheet will give you the basics; once you have looked it over, contact our office to discuss specifics.

Ways You Can Connect