Family Resource Center aids local families in need

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By Deanna Godman

Family Resource Center, located inside Spencer County Elementary School, helps families in need of clothing, food, affordable housing, paying bills and other necessities that can stand in the way of their children’s education.

“The purpose is to reduce barriers to learning” said Becky Wilson, the program coordinator. “We promote parent empowerment instead of parent enabling.”
The Family Resource Center is just inside the doors so that families seeking help do not have to sign in at the office. This makes it possible for parents to seek help confidentially.
There are 5 Core Components of the Family Resource Center’s mission: Families In Training, which helps pregnant mothers and new babies to age 4; health; Parent and Child Enrichment (PACE), which helps parents with education and skills; childcare for ages 2-3; and after school care for ages 4-12. Educational support is an optional component of the program, but may be the most important.
“We are a referral agent,” said Wilson, adding that she helps families find sources for their needs.
The programs sponsored by the Family Resource Center include the Community Baby Shower, the Health Fair ReadiFest before school starts, Muffins With Mom, Donuts with Dad, and the Father/Daughter Dance.
The Center has a school van that is available to them to transport families to Louisville if needed for doctors’ visits or other needs, and an advocate is supplied if the parent would like additional assistance during the visit.
The Family Resource Center provides a program for pregnant teens and young moms that meets once a week to help them with parenting skills and encouraging them to stay in school. The Spencer County Family Resource Center Advisory Council is the largest in the state. It is made up of parents, school personnel, and participating agencies. It is the governing body for the program.
Parents are able to apply for Christmas Assistance each year. It is not a handout. Parents are expected to complete 12 Parent Involvement hours, plus attend 1 Parent/Teacher conference per child to get assistance. The hours must be verified when they are earned.
Wilson stressed that while the Family Resource Center is available because the school has 20% of the student population on free or reduced lunch, that all of the programs offered are available to the entire school and sometimes the entire community.
“We have been pretty successful in the community with people helping us,” said Wilson, who has been with the program since it began in 1991. “It’s working together and the success stories — that’s why I’ve been in this job so long.”
The Family Resource Center welcomes volunteers at any of the programs, but most of the volunteers for the programs are the parents from the school. It is important that the parents seeking help volunteer and give back to the program that has helped them. Grandparents and retired teachers also volunteer with the programs.
The community can help by donating items that the center needs on an ongoing basis. Wilson keeps clothing in multiple sizes, including socks and underwear, on hand. Toiletries are in demand, including shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and bar soap.  They can also use a supply of things like trial-sized deodorant for the growing-up lessons that the school nurse teaches each year.
“We always need more funding to meet the needs of families,” said Wilson, adding that some people regularly send checks that are earmarked for the Backpack Buddies program. Some school employees even donate directly from their paycheck to Backpack Buddies. This program provides non-perishable food to students over the weekend to assist with food needs. Non-perishable food items are also welcome.
Contact the Family Resource Center at 502-477-0199 to learn the current needs before donating.