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Family Resource Center offers fall groups for families

Children and their parents enjoy painting at a recent Play & Learn class. Photo courtesy of Ashley Bruggeman

With autumn in the air, many parents have been sending children off to school on the bus each

morning. Families with younger children are enjoying new routines as well, with the start of programs like Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley's Play & Learn.

Play & Learn groups are available to families in nine locations across the St. Croix Valley. These classes provide an opportunity for toddlers and preschoolers to interact with their parents and other children their age. Parents can also discuss parenting strategies, dilemmas and everyday happenings with a parent educator and other parents going through similar situations. Groups are weekly, 90-minute classes facilitated by a Family Resource Center parent educator, and include guided play, a story and activities, and parent discussion on a different topic each week.

Participant Kim Tan first participated in Play & Learn when her oldest was a toddler. Now she attends with both of her children, ages 3 and almost 1. She enjoys the socialization opportunities for her children, and the chance to connect with other moms and dads — both receiving support with anything she may be struggling with or offering advice to others if she has gone through a similar situation. She says her family especially enjoys the messier crafts and sensory activities that she is less likely to take on at home, like moon sand or frozen paint.

Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley strengthens children, families and communities by offering education, resources and support. The organization also offers weekly Baby & Me groups, a play and discussion hour for parents and their infants, in partnership with six area hospitals as part of United Way St. Croix Valley's Success By 6 initiative.

Home Visiting is another program that provides individualized parent support and education through twice monthly visits; parent educators provide age-appropriate child development information, parent-child play ideas, developmental screenings, and opportunities for parents to discuss parenting topics. Young Parent groups are available for any teen who is pregnant or parenting.

Young moms and dads receive support from parent educators as well as their peers, and can receive high school credit through participation in activities, discussions and written assignments. Young parents can be referred to the program by their high school guidance counselors or county agencies, or they can sign up by contacting the Family Resource Center directly.

"We are proud to partner with health care organizations, social service agencies, school districts and libraries across our service area of Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties," said Family Resource Center's executive director Agnes Ring. "Support from United Way St. Croix Valley is pivotal to ensuring families have access to programs and services."

The organization has been a funded partner of United Way since 2005. To learn more about Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley programs, visit www.frcscv.org or call 715-684-4440.

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