Macedonia FACE proposes to use gift cards for ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft to meet the short term transportation needs of our constituents as a means of opening up conversations and ongoing relationships that help those families address transportation challenges in the long-term and build family stability. As a human services agency that receives referrals for case management from the Department of Human Services, schools, medical clinics, and a hotline, FACE frequently comes across cases in which a critical short-term transportation issue has the potential to dismantle a family's stability, particularly as many of our constituents exist on the fringes of poverty. FACE employs strength-based and trauma-informed approaches in all of its work with vulnerable families, meaning that our goal as a service provider is to meet families at the point of their need and assist them in forging a tangible, long-term solution. For many families, however, engaging in dialogue about longer term housing, employment, or educational goals is eclipsed by immediate, short-term needs.
An all too common example, taken from a recent case file and offered with no identifying information, is that of a single mother referred to FACE because one of her children was arriving at school hungry. When a FACE Family Coordinator contacted the family, the mother explained that a mechanical issue with her car resulted in missed work and a missed paycheck. Food was scarce and money for car repairs was not available. FACE was able to provide food in the short term through its Lunchbox program. The Family Coordinator also worked with the woman to identify some possible longer-term employment and housing solutions. However, the woman was so concerned about finding a means of transportation to get to work in order to receive her pay and avoid termination, that all other consideration quickly fell to the wayside. Her current housing is not situated near a bus line. FACE helped her identify some natural supports to find rides to work for a short period, but this was not sustainable for any longer term.
In various iterations, this type of challenge affects a significant portion of FACE's portion of FACE's partner families. One setback - either through illness, family issues, or housing - can deeply impact a family's ability to access transportation that is essential to maintaining employment, school attendance and other important functions. FACE understands that the families with whom we work are resilient, thoughtful, and deeply concerned about the welfare and success for their children. The ability to offer a short-term solution for transportation in the form of ride sharing gift cards will allow FACE to begin to address the longer-term solutions most families are willing to work towards. The organization, which has served families for nearly 25 years, has the cultural competency and professional skills to help families succeed, provided it can meet basic needs to achieve some modicum of stability at the outset.
FACE will follow established protocols for establishing a rapport with families and assessing their needs. The Family Coordinator will then make ride sharing gift cards available in $50 increments with the stipulation that the family work with FACE towards defining and pursuing SMART goals. Within a period of 30-60 days, FACE will have connected families to natural supports (family members, church groups, etc.) and established service agencies to identify means for addressing the immediate issue in a sustainable manner. Families cannot focus on transformative activities until basic needs are met.