First Things First (FTF) is an award-winning not-for-profit organization dedicated to strengthening families in Hamilton County, Tennessee through education, collaboration and mobilization.
FTF is a community resource that collaborates with and is supported by a broad cross-section of community organizations, groups and individuals.
When was FTF started?
A group of civic leaders came together in 1997 to form a community-wide initiative to rebuild, renew and revitalize our city, beginning with the family. These leaders recognized that the strength of our community and the future of our city lie in the health of the family.
What is the problem?
Chattanooga has a reputation for setting standards. But beneath the community’s growth, environmental health and booming economy lies the hidden fact that many families are in crisis. Divorce, absent fathers and unwed births are compromising the future of Hamilton County’s children.
Most residents agree that the family is the main building block of society. Still we must face these startling facts:
- 27% of Hamilton County adults have been divorced.
- In 2002, Tennessee ranked 4th in the nation for divorce.
- Hamilton County teenagers (ages 10-17) in 2010 accounted for 105 births. Down from 242 in 2002.
- Of the 40,169 households with children under 18 years old in Hamilton County, 29.9% (12,012) are headed by females.
- 77% of dads in Chattanooga say that fathers should be more active in the lives of their children.
In an effort to reverse the trend of destructive relationships and to strengthen the infrastructure of our community, FTF:
- Advocates for a strong, healthy, lifelong marriage
- Promotes the fact that it is imperative for both mothers and fathers to be active in the lives of their children
- Works to prevent out of wedlock pregnancies
How can we strengthen our families?
FTF has three strategic goals to meet:
- Reduce the number of divorces filed in Hamilton County.
- Reduce out of wedlock pregnancies in Hamilton County.
- Increase sufficient father involvement.
How will we accomplish this?
FTF emphasizes four strategic actions.
- To use credible research to identify significant problems facing Hamilton County, emphasizing families and youth.
- To identify solutions that are based on traditional values and principles; to measure the effectiveness of these solutions based on credible, empirical data; to evaluate the impact of these potential solutions.
- To build broad public support for values-based solutions through advocacy, communication and collaboration rather than providing direct client services.
- To empower and equip local leaders and professionals who work with families and also promote values-based solutions, and to provide support that advances their effectiveness.