Our Theory of Change

Our Theory of Change

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Catholic Community Services has created a theory of change that is grounded in credible science and designed to effectively and efficiently support the people we serve to thrive, create joy in their lives and achieve one or more key outcomes.

Assumption 1: Children, families, and adults need safe, stable, nurturing relationships to thrive, i.e., enjoy good health, develop the knowledge, skills, and virtues they need to succeed, and become financially self-sufficient.
  • Home is the most important part of a person’s environment. A good home is safe, stable, and nurturing.
  • Safety refers to the extent to which a person is free from fear and secure from physical or psychological harm within his or her social and physical environment.
  • Stability refers to the degree of predictability and consistency in a person’s environment. Disrupted placements and frequently changing caregivers harm people; therefore every effort should be made to support stability in a safe, nurturing home.
  • Nurture refers to the extent to which a caregiver is available and able to sensitively respond to and meet the needs of the person.
  • We believe healthy, stable personal relationships foster self-confidence, which in turn paves the way for success in education and employment.
  • The profound relationship between life-long positive relationships and human health and well-being is well documented.
Assumption 2: Children, families, and adults do better when they live in a safe, caring neighborhood or community.
  • “Healthy children are raised by people and communities, not by government and professional services…” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2010).
  • Community health can be enhanced by many of the same resources, activities and facilities that support individual health: indoor and outdoor recreation space, opportunities for meaningful work and volunteerism, neighborhood gatherings and celebrations, and supportive faith communities.
Assumption 3: Toxic Stress disrupts safe, stable, nurturing relationships and triggers fight- flight- freeze reactions.
  • Some stress is necessary and helpful, higher levels of stress can be tolerable, however at some point stress becomes toxic and debilitating.
  • Adverse childhood experiences and other types of trauma can lead to hypersensitivity to stress. Trauma informed care and treatment is, therefore, essential to our work.
Assumption 4: Homes, neighborhoods, and communities rich in five key Strengthening Families Protective Factors help mitigate the source of toxic stress and help people to become more resilient when facing stressful situations.
  • Social Connections: Friends, family members, neighbors and community members provide:
    • emotional support,
    • help solvingproblems
    • parenting advice
    • concrete assistance to parents.
    Networks of support are essential to parents and also offer opportunities for people to “give back”, an important part of self- esteem as well as a benefit for the community. Isolated families may need extra help in reaching out to build positive relationships.
  • Concrete Support in Times of Need: Meeting basic economic needs like food, shelter, clothing and health care is essential for families to thrive. Likewise, when families encounter a crisis such as domestic violence, mental illness or substance abuse, adequate services and supports need to be in place to provide stability, treatment and help for family members to get through the crisis.
  • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: Accurate information about child development and appropriate expectations for children’s behavior at every age help parents see their children and youth in a positive light and promote their healthy development. Information can come from many sources, including family members as well as parent education classes and surfing the internet. Studies show information is most effective when it comes at the precise time parents need it to understand their own children. Parents who experienced harsh discipline or other negative childhood experiences may need extra help to change the parenting patterns they learned as children.
  • Parental Resilience: No one can eliminate stress from parenting, and at the same time a parent’s capacity for resilience can affect how a parent deals with stress. Resilience is the ability to manage and bounce back from all types of challenges that emerge in every family’s life. It means finding ways to solve problems, building and sustaining trusting relationships including relationships with your own child, and knowing how to seek help when necessary.
  • Social and Emotional Competence of Children: A child or youth’s ability to interact positively with others, self-regulate their behavior and effec¬tively communicate their feelings has a positive impact on their relationships with their family, other adults, and peers. Challenging behaviors or delayed development can create extra stress for families, so early identification and assistance for both parents and children can head off nega¬tive results and keep development on track.
Assumption 5: Intentional pursuit of quality
  • Our work is accomplished through our employees, foster parents, contractors, and volunteers. Workers must be well trained and supported to provide excellent services to customers in a manner that is congruent with our values, service principles, and theory of change.
  • Workers need the skills and data necessary to evaluate and continually improve the quality of our services.
Assumption 6: Collective Impact and Collaboration, where organizations work together to realize shared goals and objectives, is vital for solving complex social problems.
  • Common Agenda: All participants share a vision for change that includes a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving the problem through agreed-upon actions.
  • Shared Measurement: All participating organizations agree on the ways success will be measured and reported, with a short list of common indicators identified and used for learning and improvement.
  • Mutually Reinforcing Activities: A diverse set of stakeholders, typically across sectors, coordinate a set of differentiated activities through a mutually reinforcing plan of action.
  • Continuous Communication: All parties engage in frequent and structured open communication to build trust, assure mutual objectives, and create common motivation.
  • Backbone Support: An independent, funded staff dedicated to the initiative provides ongoing support by guiding the initiative’s vision and strategy, supporting aligned activities, establishing shared measurement practices, building public will, advancing policy, and mobilizing resources.
Assumption 7: Spirituality refers to the need for meaning, relationship and hope in our lives as well as the expression of faith in a higher power.
  • Catholic Community Services cares for the whole person—body, mind and spirit.
  • Many people find healing and strength through spiritual belief and growth.
  • Adults must be free to develop their own understanding of God. Children will be encouraged in their early spiritual formation in a way that respects the faith of their parents, family, and culture.
Contact Us

Catholic Community Services
Main Office 
Bishop Steiner Building
3737 Portland Rd NE,
Salem, Oregon 97301

P.O. Box 20400
Salem, Oregon 97307-0400
Phone: (503)-390-2600
Fax: (503)-390-8562 | info@ccswv.org
© Copyright 2015 Catholic Community Services of the Mid-Willamette Valley & Central Coast
501(c)3 Nonprofit Organization