Founded in 1963, Starfish Family Services is a leading human service organization serving children and families in Western Wayne County. As a foremost provider of Early Head Start and Head Start programs, Starfish embraces a comprehensive strategy that works to address challenges vulnerable children and their families may face. Starfish provides parenting resources, children’s mental health services, after-school programs, and an emergency shelter for teens and youth in crisis.

The Challenge

Learning to cope with adversity is an important part of healthy child development. Toxic stress can occur when a child experiences strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity, such as: physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship—without adequate adult support. When stress occurs continually, or is triggered by multiple sources, it can have a cumulative (lifetime) toll on an individual’s physical and mental health. The more adverse experiences in childhood, the greater the likelihood of developmental delays and later health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse, and depression. Research also indicates that early-life supportive, responsive relationships with caring adults can prevent or reverse the damaging effects of toxic stress response.

How We Helped

In May, 2015, Starfish Family Services and Mission Throttle embarked on a journey to create a comprehensive business strategy to scale several of its core service offerings. The strategies were focused on Starfish’s desire to promote early detection / intervention of mental health issues, mitigate barriers to health care access, and improve behavioral and physical health outcomes. As the project progressed, the vision evolved. It was soon evident that by creating a more integrated organization, Starfish was uniquely positioned to accelerate its core passion of creating resiliency for the children and families it serves.

Our Impact

Mission Throttle identified a host of opportunities for Starfish to accelerate the impact of its programs, creating greater earned revenue necessary to support innovation and operational excellence at scale.  Through a collaborative, user-centered process, Mission Throttle  developed a strategy for introducing an integrated, data-driven culture that will provide the foundation upon which to create this change. By 2017, these combined initiatives will allow Starfish to increase its client base by approximately 160%.

“ I underestimated the level of professional development that my team and I received as a result of this project. We are better executives and leaders as a result. Mission Throttle helped us to identify internal opportunities that will maximize our impact and financial stability, and brought sophisticated business concepts to our organization.”

— Marisa Nicely, VP of Clinical & Youth Services, Starfish family Services