Incorporating Whole Family Into Focus Groups

Getting direct and in-depth information from parents is a critical strategy for foundations to
gather information and understanding of how whole family work could improve outcomes for
families. Focus groups offer a setting in which dialogue among participants can reveal the
challenges families are facing in greater complexity than a survey or individual interview might

Foundations can conduct focus groups with questions exclusively centered on whole family
approaches, or can incorporate one or two questions into focus groups spanning a broader set
of topics. Additionally, foundations may also want to ask their grantees to conduct focus
groups as part of their process to determine strategy.

Protocols and Results for Whole Family Focus Groups

Strategy with Rox protocol

Foundation of Southern Arizona’s focus group results:
Executive Summary
Full Report

Questions to Incorporate Into a Broader Set of Topics

In this case, leaders of focus groups may not name whole family work, but ask questions
that help foundations to understand if and how whole family approaches could improv
the outcomes from their investments.
For example, questions could include:

  1. Stop for a moment and envision where you want you and your family to be three years
    from now. For you, what are you doing – in school, working, taking care of your kids,
    other activities? For your kids, their schooling, health, how they are growing up. When
    you think about that, and where you are now, what do you need to get there? What is
    getting in the way of getting there?
  2. How would you like programs to support you and your family? What is working now in
    the programs that you work with, and what isn’t? Are you getting all the services you
    need to move ahead with your life and your family’s life? Are they easy to access even if
    they come from different places/agencies? What would you like to see done
  3. What does your family need to succeed? What is getting in the way of succeeding now
    that programs could help with? For you, for your children, and for your whole family?