Pascale Sykes Foundation: Research Demonstrates Success of “Whole Family Approach” in Helping Struggling Families

Pascale Sykes Foundation: Research Demonstrates Success of “Whole Family Approach” in Helping Struggling Families

“The Power of Research to Inform Policy” Summit Highlights Best Practices in Helping Families Address Challenges such as Food Insecurity, Mental Health, Childcare, and Transportation


PRINCETON, JCT. – Examining the best ways to help working families in need, the Pascale Sykes Foundation held its national research summit, “The Power of Research to Inform Policy”, on November 16, 2022, at the Conference Center at Mercer.

Non-profit executives, human services officials, and leading researchers discussed timely findings surrounding the best ways to support families in the post-COVID 19 environment — dealing with issues such as food insecurity, the youth mental health crisis, and access to childcare and transportation.  First Lady Tammy Murphy delivered welcoming remarks that highlighted the Administration’s commitment to improving maternal health disparities in New Jersey.

“The Pascale Sykes Foundation was founded in 1992 by Fran Sykes with the premise that working families shouldn’t experience a crisis before they can access the resources and support needed to reach their full potential,” said Susan Kyrillos, Acting President of the Pascale Sykes Foundation. “One of the most essential investments of the Foundation has been to support a longitudinal study of the Whole Family Approach, a family-led strategy which provides adults and children with the tools to set, plan for, and achieve their goals together.”

Researchers from the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs presented data over the past ten years showing the Whole Family Approach has had a positive impact on struggling families in rural, suburban, and urban communities where the program was implemented.

Mavis Asiedu-Frimpong, Director of the Senator Walter Rand Institute, said, “The evaluation data indicates that families who participated in the Whole Family Approach had stronger family relationships, a reduction in financial challenges over time, and improved educational outcomes and aspirations. Another key finding was the flexibility of the Whole Family Approach and of the non-profit organizations implementing the Approach, as they were able to tailor the services and support they provided to families and children in the communities they served.”

“At New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families, our goal is to support the entire family, which is why we’ve developed the Department into a family-child well-being system,” said Christine Norbut Beyer, Commissioner, Department of Children and Families. “When implementing new statewide programs, we have the Whole Family Approach baked into our strategy.  For example, as we roll out the new youth mental health services in our schools, NJ4S (New Jersey Statewide Student Support Services), we specifically ensured one of the objectives is to support the entire family in the mental health counseling services provided.”

Attendees heard from renowned psychiatrist Dr. Bruce D. Perry, M.D, Ph.D., active teacher, clinician, and researcher in children’s mental health. His work on the impact of abuse, neglect and trauma on the developing brain has impacted clinical practice, programs, and policy across the world. Dr. Perry’s most recent book, What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, co-authored with Oprah Winfrey, was released in 2021.

“Human beings are incredibly complex – individually, in families, communities, cultures and across generations,” said Dr. Perry, a leading researcher in the field of neurodevelopment. “Rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all approach, our goal is to create evidence-generated practices so we can create better practice-policy programs that make the world better for the next generations.  One thing we know from decades of research is that if we want to make meaningful changes as a society, we must incorporate into policy practices the building and fostering of safe and stable relationships.”

Over the past decade, the Pascale Sykes Foundation has implemented the Whole Family Approach in 16 different collaborative nonprofit organizations across Southern New Jersey, with successful outcomes. These organizations include: CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Center for Family Services, Volunteer Center of South Jersey, Bridgeton Area Athletic League, Cumberland County Department of Corrections, United Advocacy Group, Rowan College of South Jersey, Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey, Inc., Revive South Jersey, City of Bridgeton, and many more.

After 30 years and awarding more than $60 million in grants to support strengthening families, economic development and transportation efforts, Pascale Sykes Foundation is sunsetting.  We encourage new funders and organizations to carry forward the Whole Family Approach, a proven method to improve family well-being and financial stability.


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