Recent News

September 27, 2018

Partnering to Make a Difference for Families

United Way’s family-centered approach brings nearly 100 partner agencies together to create new and innovative solutions to help children and families on a path out of poverty. We’re debuting a new series of stories that offers a look into the work happening behind the scenes to make a difference in our community. This is one of those stories.

Uniting partners to make a difference for families is the bread and butter of United Way’s recent family-centered shift in its work. Teaming with other nonprofits is exactly how United Way partner Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services (GCB), the most comprehensive mental health agency in Greater Cincinnati, has started reaching families in new ways.

“We began to talk to Santa Maria and Community Matters (fellow United Way partner agencies) and both expressed significant desires to have behavioral health services on their site, which fit perfectly with what we were hoping to do,” said Anne Combs, Vice President of Child & Family Services, Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health. “We now have therapists at Santa Maria, we have therapists working with their Every Child Succeeds program doing in-home counseling and we have therapists at Community Matters.”


GCB is also working to implement behavioral health services full-time at Brighton Center’s Scholar House in Northern Kentucky.

“Ever since we knew United Way was shifting its alignment into the more family-focused world, we jumped right on board and began to think about how we could get better aligned,” said Combs. “We really began thinking how we can be more focused on families and do some more systems work.”

GCB also decided to expand family-focused intervention with a new program called the SAGE Program and train all of their therapists to become more family-focused.

The SAGE Program has two tracks: one that is family-focused intervention with a therapist working with an individual on behalf of their family. The other track, known as the Sage Wrap Around, involves a therapist and a service coordinator who coordinates the full need surrounding the entire family – whether that be healthcare, food, or any community resources a family might need. 


“SAGE Wrap Around is family-driven and has a set structure with family meetings where the family really does make decisions in what the goals and activities of their treatment are going to be,” said Combs. “We’re very happy with how it has kicked off.”

There are currently around 25 people in the program, but GCB expects that number will grow significantly over the next six months.

“United Way is valuing the learning process,” said Combs. “We’re all trying to learn together and that feels really good. We have grown the number of families we’ve seen and will continue to impact even more families throughout Greater Cincinnati thanks to this work.”