I recently splurged on some new shoes. Why? you may ask. I went on a Big Trip. I was in Washington DC the first week of May for a conference of the National Family Support Network. And, of course, I needed new shoes- shoes I could walk in, talk in, and think big thoughts. Some of you know what I am talking about.
Anyway, new shoes aside, the gathering of family resource center networks from across the country was inspiring. It would seem that supporting families is universal. Families in California and Maine, Florida and Wisconsin need support. We share a core vision of ensuring that every family has what they need to thrive and that children can grow in a stable and nurturing environment.
What we do is surround families with what are known as the five protective factors for strong families:
- enhancing parental resilience;
- connecting families with concrete supports in times of need;
- facilitating knowledge of parenting and child development
- supporting healthy social and emotional development in children; and
- creating social connections.
Strong families make for strong communities and ultimately a stronger world for us all.
Family resource centers provide this support through parent education and support: parenting classes, support groups, play groups for parents and young children, baby groups. Through these groups and interactions new friendships development and social connections result. Intensive in-home support for families is provided, supporting pregnant women, infants, and the family through regular visits. Connecting families with food, clothing, housing, employment, counseling, transportation, or whatever the need is another important role of the family resource center.
How we do this support differs from state to state, community to community. In Kentucky, there are 854 family resource centers located in the schools. In Vermont they are called Parent Child Centers. In New Jersey they are called Family Success Centers. Some family resource centers include childcare programs, food pantries, thrift shops and English as a second language. Some are funded with state or federal dollars, others are not (New Hampshire is not). All family resource centers reflect their communities. In New Hampshire we have a thirteen family resource centers ranging from self-standing nonprofits (like The River Center and The Grapevine) to the Family Connections Center located in the state prison, to Whole Village Family Resource Center in Plymouth that houses multiple nonprofits that support families.
I attended this convening in my role as President of the Board of Family Support New Hampshire, the coalition of family resource centers and family support programs of New Hampshire. I was encouraged to meet women and men from across the country who are engaged in supporting families through family resource centers. I came away encouraged by their enthusiasm, passion, and thoughtful leadership. We are convinced that families need support to thrive. Children don’t come with instructions. Parenting is a tough job and we can’t do it alone. Family resource centers are here to help.
So, remember that The River Center is a family and community resource center. Right here in your community. We offer parenting classes like the Challenge of Teens and Tweens with Bonnie Harris. We have a parent group that meets in Jaffrey on Friday mornings for parents with young children. Thursday mornings Families, Forests, and Farms, is a fun group for parents and children exploring our community. Our home visitors support families with young children through regular in-home visits. We have a Safe Sitter babysitting class coming up on June 1 for 11-14 year olds. And then there is money coaching and help with your taxes. And don’t forget that we are here to help connect you with community resources by calling 924-6800, walk in at 9 Vose Farm Rd, Suite 115, or go to www.rivercenter.us for our on-line Factbook resource guide to services in the Eastern Monadnock Region.
Strong families make strong communities which result in a better world for all of us. Let us know how we can support your family.
The River Center Family and Community Resource Center