By Strengthening Their Relationship, Parents Can Improve Outcomes for Children

By Giving List Staff   |   February 14, 2023

A Valentine’s Day Message from Family Service Agency

“Strengthening your relationship can not only improve your personal happiness, but improve the overall wellbeing of the family,” said Alison Espínola, Family Service Agency’s Health & Human Services (HHS) Grant Manager. “Research shows that children are safer, healthier, and more likely to thrive when adults in their lives have healthy relationships—whether or not they are married or romantically involved.”

Maintaining any relationship requires on-going effort. The good news is that there are tools available to help couples achieve their goals in relationships and with their family.

Over time, Martha and Mario felt they were losing sight of their friendship and mutual support for their family. They were beginning to see negative communication patterns develop.

To reaffirm their commitment, Martha and Mario recently completed FSA’s Connected Couple, Connected Families program. They built on their existing strengths to add critical life and relationship skills to help them create safer, more stable relationships, and a better home environment for their 10-year-old son. Strengthening their relationship has also strengthen their relationship with their child.

“I told my husband that life is about more than work and sleep,” said Martha. “Now, my husband spends more time with me and definitely makes more of an effort to play and spend time with our son.”

“I feel more connected to my family,” said Mario. “My son, and my wife, are happier because we gained the skills to talk out whatever issues arise as a family. We’ve also made it a habit to spend time together.”

The 10-session Connected Couple, Connected Families program is offered throughout Santa Barbara County at no cost, thanks to funding from HHS.  Couples can participate in online workshops from their own home, or in-person in their local community. Classes are taught in Spanish or English.

To learn more about Family Service Agency’s Connected Couple, Connected Families program, including a list of upcoming classes, visit or call Alison Espínola at (805) 450-1520.


Family Service Agency

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(805) 965.1001 x 1255
Director of Development: Paul Katan


Our mission is to strengthen and advocate for families and individuals of all ages and diversities, helping to create and preserve a healthy community.

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FSA has always found a way to help those in need, expanding the depth of its programs when necessary. It is truly an asset to our community.
Marni Cooney
Board member

Help Serve More Families in Need, Faster

Family Service Agency has a long tradition of helping low-income people across Santa Barbara County receive the help they need in times of crisis. It’s a holistic approach that provides the wrap-around care each individual needs in order to become self-reliant, a mission that’s importance has become even more pronounced in the past few years.

But with inflation on the rise, FSA and the Santa Barbara County residents it serves need help.  

“Where we are really lacking is having enough flexible funding for basic needs,” Lisa Brabo, FSA’s CEO says. “We’re doing our best to serve as many families as we can, but that’s where we really need help.”

Board of Directors

Molly Carrillo-Walker, Co-President
Tricia Price, Co-President
Rod Durham, Co-VP of Programs
Edward Tran, Co-VP of Programs
Maria McCall, VP of Development
Robert Janeway, Co-Treasurer
Linda Sessler, Co-Treasurer
Teressa Johnes, Secretary

Mario Barfield, Psy.D.
Arianna Castellanos
Paul Cordeiro
Marni Cooney
Robin Doell Sawaske
Ed Galanski
Patty Herrera
Blanca Mejia, J.D.
Alexander Murkison
Paul Van Meel
Ryan Zick, J.D.
Terri Zuniga

Shirley Ann