Empowering People for over 125 Years!
Community Care Alliance was formed on July 1, 2014 through the merger of Family Resources Community Action (FRCA) and NRI Community Services (NRICS). The two Woonsocket-based nonprofits united to create a comprehensive human service agency, one of only a few mergers in the nation of a community action agency, community mental health center and family service agency.
Both legacy organizations were built on the foundation of positive social change for vulnerable populations, and in response to critical community needs. Founded in 1891 as the Woonsocket Day Nursery, FRCA's purpose was to provide day care to families who came to work in the city’s mills. Throughout much of the 20th century, the agency was known as Woonsocket Child and Family Services.
By the mid-20th century, legislation and public policy began to deinstitutionalize persons with mental illness, and began to create comprehensive community mental health centers. NRICS was founded in 1966, an early adopter of this approach. During the first 15 years, NRICS was a small community mental health clinic that operated in office settings where mental health services were provided for those least able to pay. Then in 1981, reflective of new trends in effective mental health service delivery and the hire of a new executive director, priorities shifted. An advocacy-oriented board of directors was elected. Home and community-based services became the standard at NRICS, with programs focusing on the clients’ goals rather than their ailments. An increasingly diverse staff had better understanding and broader skill sets to bring to bear on their clients’ recovery. Blackstone Valley Mental Health Realty, a housing development subsidiary, was formed. A job placement program for clients was initiated. The Viola Berard (alternative) School was started.
A decade later and only a few blocks away, Woonsocket Child and Family Services was renamed Family Resources in order to reflect the growth of their support services array. In 1997, Family Resources began an affiliation with the Woonsocket Shelter Community Action Program, expanding the reach of the organization to serve the homeless, assist low-income persons with basic needs, and in partnership with local businesses, improve their economic opportunities through employment and training programs. Three years later, the affiliation between these two organizations resulted in a merger that created Family Resources Community Action. The merged boards were composed of equal numbers of low-income residents, public sector stakeholders and private representatives. In 2002, the Agape Center, a small HIV/AIDS support organization, merged with FRCA. The integration of programs and services created seamless access to support for a multiplicity of needs.
In 1991, parallel to this organizational growth, Rhode Island was awarded federal funding for the Children and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP). Over time, CASSP evolved into the Family Care Community Partnership (FCCP) in which NRICS and FRCA shared leadership and ownership. The FCCP is a family preservation network that assists DCYF-involved families, those who are at risk for child abuse or neglect, or who are seeking assistance with serious behavior issues. The network now engages hundreds of families a year in northern Rhode Island alone, helping keep the family unit intact or reunifying parents with their children, while reaching thousands through the FCCP public awareness campaign.
Cooperative relationships like FCCP helped to foster a culture of community collaboration and minimize non-productive competition. In late 2010, FRCA reached out to NRICS, in their role as the local community mental health center, to run the former agency’s outpatient services. The resultant service agreement led to more opportunities for shared work in the areas of clinical supervision, case finding, service connection, foster care and shelter. The crossover in clients and service needs presented FRCA and NRICS with a stable platform on which to build a formal partnership. The legal partnership was formalized in 2010 and led directly to the merger that created Community Care Alliance.
Over the course many years, FRCA and NRICS demonstrated consistently how community mental health and human services agencies can collaborate to improve services to low income individuals and families in a region with notable challenges. Today Community Care Alliance creates a stronger safety net and seamless service delivery system for clients, and simultaneously improves efficiency and effectiveness through shared staff talent and resources.