Family Service of Greater New Orleans February Newsletter

Functional Family Therapy changes family dynamics

Functional Family Therapy

Since last July, Family Service counselors have worked inside the homes of 31 clients as part of the Functional Family Therapy program, said Kazanda Lucas, program manager. The FFT model involves entire families for periods of three or four months to address children’s behavioral problems, including delinquency, aggression and substance abuse.

"Some of a child’s issues could stem from internal family dynamics," Lucas said. The program is very structured and its timeframe dictates that family members must be very motivated to make permanent change.

"Surprisingly, most families are very receptive to having us in their homes," Lucas said. Often, other attempts to influence behavior have been tried and failed, so analyzing family dynamics can be an effective way to change persistent patterns."

"Families decide which members will be involved in the therapy, meaning everyone is fully committed," she added.

Referrals come through schools and other agencies. Family Service staff members are marketing FFT directly to school administrators. Most clients are 12 to 16 years of age, either pre-teens or in their early teen years when young people tend to struggle for more independence.

To learn more about FFT, visit our website:

Clinician supports juveniles at West Bank detention center

Rivarde Juvenile Detention Center

For two years, Sarah Shelton, MS, LPC-S, NCC, has provided crisis intervention services at Rivarde Juvenile Detention Center in Harvey. The Family Service contract with Jefferson Parish Department of Juvenile Services allows her to collaborate with the center’s full-time mental health professional, providing an additional level of safety for youths and ensuring standards of care are being met.

"I am not their therapist, but I encourage them and try to give some perspective on their situations," Shelton said.

The majority of teens detained at Rivarde stay for less than 30 days while awaiting trial.

"So many young people have not had any nurturance or support, putting them in a position where they are likely to make poor decisions. In adolescence, they are forming their personalities and at particular risk," Shelton said.

"Because they are often frightened, I explain the routine and listen. It is so important to acknowledge their feelings. But they do need to understand they won’t be successful in mainstream culture if they decide to continue these behaviors," she said.

"Sometimes, what is necessary is maintaining a balance between being compassionate and maintaining distance. I feel for them because some face long incarcerations."

GNOF awards grant to NOLA Dads

Greater New Orleans Foundation

The Greater New Orleans Foundation – Impact 2013 has awarded Family Service $20,000 to support a new health education component for NOLA Dads. Its focus will be outreach to African-American males and providing education about health care options.

Family Service counselors will hold facilitator-conducted group sessions to make health care information available and screen participants for access to healthcare financing programs. The goals are to enroll 85 percent of participants in a health care financing program and to link 75 percent with a primary health care organization, said Alix Tarnowsky, LMSW, NOLA Dads program manager.

“The nonprofit organizations receiving IMPACT grants are contributing to the vibrancy of our community,” said Albert Ruesga, president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “In partnership with our donors, we’re honored to recognize organizations that are working tirelessly to make this a thriving community for all. Every day these organizations are addressing community needs—they are sheltering our homeless, mentoring our children, and feeding our hungry.”

To schedule a session, contact Tarnowsky at or call 826-7351.

Family Service releases new annual report


The 2012-13 Family Service annual report can be viewed online at For a printed copy, please contact Phyllis Brown at 504-822-0800.


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