Helping Families Initiative

What is HFI?

The Helping Families Initiative (HFI) is a crime-prevention effort designed to improve family functioning, child well-being and educational outcomes. HFI connects families to resources to strengthen families and improve student behavior and academic engagement before families encounter the juvenile justice system.

How does it work?

HFI partners with schools to recognize warning signs like unexcused absences and suspensions, and then conducts in-home assessments to identify root causes of dangerous behavior. An inter-agency team provides insight and information across multiple agencies to craft an individualized intervention plan for each family. Empowering families with resources and support helps students attend school consistently and behave in accordance with school policies.

Why is the DA involved?

The Alabama Compulsory School Attendance Law (16-28-12, Code of Alabama, 1975) says parents are responsible to ensure all children between the ages of six (6) and seventeen (17) attend school regularly and behave properly. Principals and superintendents must report student absences and behavior violations regularly to the district attorney. DA’s shall vigorously enforce this section to ensure proper conduct and required attendance.

We believe that addressing root issues with resources and problem-solving with parents is a better way to ensure student attendance improves. Chronic absenteeism and disciplinary infractions reduce the likelihood of a student graduating on time and negatively impact reading proficiency. Gaining a good education is crucial for students to avoid a future life of crime.

What resources do you offer?

HFI partners with more than 120 service providers in our community to provide:

-       Academic Support                           - Food

-       Mentoring                                         - Clothing

-       Mental Health                                   - Utilities

-       Parenting Support                            - Financial Stability

-       Housing                                            - Domestic Violence

-       Driver’s License Recovery               - Civil Legal Help

-       Job Training                                     - Life Skills

HFI pairs you with a case officer for your school and neighborhood to listen to your story, secure resources for your family, and help you reach your goals.

Which schools do you serve?

HFI began in the Birmingham division during the 2016-2017 school year. In August 2021, HFI began serving all Birmingham City Schools and all Tarrant City Schools with 10 full-time case officers.

How can I get help?

1)    Parents call (205) 325-5483.
Leave a message to get a call back from the case officer for your child’s school.

2)    Parents get an HFI letter and help by phone.
During the school year, DA Carr mails an HFI letter at the first suspension or the second unexcused absence. Parents are NOT in trouble. We want to offer resources when problems are small.

3)    Parents get an HFI letter and ongoing support.
If unexcused absences or suspensions continue, DA Carr mails another HFI letter. Parents get help creating a resource plan from an HFI case officer.

Who is eligible?

Families with a child enrolled in either Birmingham City Schools or Tarrant City Schools are eligible for HFI. HFI can provide multi-generational support for anyone in the household. As a purely prevention effort, children must not be actively court involved to receive HFI services.

For more information on the Helping Families Initiative, call 205-325-5483.