To build the self-efficacy of families and youth beyond formal services, several System of Care grant communities have partnered with faith based organizations to implement the Open Table model. This model involves congregations coming together to form communities or “tables” where congregational members use their life and vocational skills, which is referred to as social capital, as tools for change to assist families experiencing life challenges. The Open Table process relies on the social capital to build relationships, resources, and supports between churches and their surrounding communities. These relationships, resources, and supports expand the System of Care by allowing the organic development of natural supports for families and youth while receiving formal services.
Faith based communities have a wealth of resources and offer a network of natural supports critical to the success of an effective System of Care. They are often justice oriented and have historically been pillars of strength in their community. Many faith based communities hold the core values of volunteerism and generosity to benefit their community and those in need. Members in the Open Table model are able to network with the families being served in each community to assist in meeting a multitude of needs which include but are not limited to transportation, employment assistance, childcare, mentoring, spirituality and fellowship. Data collected by Open Table shows that most individuals served through the Open Table model form at least one relationship with a member of their “table” that lasts beyond the convening of the table. By creating partnerships with churches and faith-based communities, Systems of Care communities can potentially connect youth and families in need to long term natural supports. Through this support, families and youth can often achieve the independence and confidence to sustain them beyond the formal service system.
This map shows the locations in Virginia where Open Table is being implemented.