Southside Family Nurturing Center was founded in 1974 by concerned members of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church on Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis. Beverly Blinde, Linda Haugen and Jean Christie founded Southside with the belief that child abuse and neglect are preventable with early intervention and family support. With modest beginnings in the church basement, we now serve 50 families each year at our center in the Phillips community of South Minneapolis.
As one of the first private, not-for-profit agencies to implement an holistic therapeutic model of early childhood education and home visiting/family support services in the state of Minnesota, Southside has impacted the lives of hundreds of children and families.
Early Accreditation and Reputation
- In 1990, The National Center for Children in Poverty, in conjunction with The Minneapolis Foundation, chose Southside as the case study for a research project. Their report, Trapped From Birth, was published in 1990.
- In 1991, the Emma B. Howe Foundation selected SSFNC to coordinate the development of a culturally diverse curriculum with national implications.
- In 1994, Southside’s Center Based Program gained accreditation by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs.
Excellence and Leadership
- In 1997, SSFNC was chosen by Hennepin County to administer the Phillips Neighborhood Family Partnership program, initially funded by the state of Minnesota and The McKnight Foundation.
- In 2001, Southside received an Excellence Award from the Greater Twin Cities United Way for fostering outstanding program excellence, community involvement, and integrated service delivery.
- In 2005, Southside welcomed Barb Olson as Executive Director after an original founding members retired.
High Quality Programming and Partnerships
- In 2005, Southside initiated an arts program for children and families through partnership with the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, local Target stores, and the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre.
- In 2006, Southside began translating parent materials into Spanish and providing interpretation for Spanish-speaking families in partnership with Sheltering Arms Foundation.
- In 2007, Southside implemented on-site clinical play therapy for children and worked with parents to improve access to adult mental health services in partnership with the City of Minneapolis and the Sheltering Arms Foundation.
Award Winning Programming
- In 2009, Southside was first awarded a 4-Star Rating from the State of Minnesota’s new Parent Aware Rating System, a rating which we continue to hold.
- In 2009, Southside was awarded the Early Education Star of the State from the Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota and was highlighted as a model early childhood education program in the 2009 Minnesota KIDS COUNT Data Book.
- In 2015, Southside received the Distinguished Service Award from the Minnesota chapter of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (MnAEYC)
- In 2015, Southside successfully completed our reaccreditation process through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), which is valid until 2020
Enhanced, Trauma-Informed, Therapeutic Programming
- In 2015, taking up the mantel of program excellence as Barb Olson retired from her position as Executive Director, Southside’s new Executive Director, Julie Ellefson lead a strategic planning initiative with the Board, approving a new 2016-2018 Strategic Plan.
- In 2016, Southside implemented a variety of new therapeutic services to address the mental and emotional health needs of children related to family violence and trauma exposure.
- Play therapy groups using the Incredible Years Curriculum, which builds age-appropriate social and conflict resolution skills
- Individual and group Music Therapy benefiting children who have experienced domestic violence and other traumas.
- Implementation of the AMAZE curriculum, a multi-cultural and heart-warming anti-discrimination, anti-bias curriculum focused on developing children’s empathy across race, religion, language, ability, and social experience.
- On-site adult mental health therapy for parents/caregivers in our program
Capacity Building & Direct Services Investments
- In 2017, Southside invested in a number of organizational restructuring activities to prepare for expanding our service footprint by 2020. We:
- Revised our intake process to guarantee we are serving children and families most at risk relative to trauma exposure and depth of poverty.
- Adjusted our recruitment strategies in the Phillips community to more equitably represent the diversity of our community on the Southside Board of Directors, Direct Service Team, and among the children and families served.
- Raised salaries across the board to reflect more highly competitive and livable wages.
- Increased impact by moving from a 4-day to 5-day per week service model to further effect the consistency, intensity, and impact of services on child and family outcomes.
- Divided our home visitor and teacher roles into two unique positions so that our staffing model now includes professional Home Visitors and professional Early Childhood Educators.
- Raised educational and experiential requirements for our Early Childhood Educators and Home Visitors.
- Renovated our preschool and toddler classrooms to enhance the learning environment for children with trauma exposure.