Howard County Executive Calvin Ball was joined by U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes, Department of Community Resources and Services (DCRS) Director Jacqueline Scott and other local leaders to formally open the County’s first-ever Family Support Center (FSC).
Located at 9790 Patuxent Woods Drive in Columbia (RTA Bus Route 503) and open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the FSC offers comprehensive, family-centered, community-based preventive programs at no cost to parents, caregivers, and their children ages birth to five. Photos from the event can be found here.
We know that the early years of a child’s life are some of the most critical years in their development and learning, as much of a child’s brain development occurs during this time, with more than one million new neural connections being formed every second. With the opening of this Family Support Center, we are ensuring our youngest residents and their parents and caregivers have the resources they need to build a strong foundation for later learning, behavior and health. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child.
-Calvin Ball Howard County Executive
Overseen by the Howard County Office of Children and Families (OCF), the goal of the FSC is to help parents and caregivers with the challenges of raising little ones by offering free and comprehensive services, resources and referrals. The FSC will promote the full development and well-being of children, enhance the quality of parent and child interactions, and be the link to services for overall parent and family self-sufficiency and sustainability.
“When I see programs like these come to fruition, it reaffirms what I know about our state and Howard County,” said U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes. “Putting resources in place to help the young family thrive contributes to the overall wellbeing of Maryland.”
“Research shows that 90 percent of the brain’s development occurs from birth to five. Young brains are continuously learning and growing, so engaging and supporting the whole family is critically important in promoting healthy early childhood development which lays the foundation for educational success and thriving through childhood and adolescence into adulthood,” said Maryland State Delegate Jessica Feldmark.
Additionally, the FSC will also provide programs to parents to help them learn job readiness skills and build solid social networks while at the same time, giving their young children access to a state-of-the-art early care and education setting. The FSC is not a child-care center.
“Through the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, Family Support Centers are expanding throughout the state, and I stand here to present one of the first expansion sites, right here in Howard County,” said DCRS Director Jacqueline Scott. “Our staff spent many hours of careful and thoughtful planning on creating this space and determined its co-location with our Department of Community Resources and Services to be a vital component to best serve our families.”
“My kids aren’t in pre-school any longer, but I would have benefited from a Center like this when they were younger,” said Howard County Chairperson Christiana Rigby. “I congratulate the county on making this a priority and it shows again that we do what is needed to elevate our residents in need.”
The FSC is made possible thanks to the Maryland Family Network (MFN). Established in 2009 with the merger of two leading nonprofit organizations, the Maryland Committee for Children and Friends of the Family, MFN’s mission is to ensure young children have strong families, quality early learning environments, and a champion for their interests.
“Kudos to the staff of the Office of Children and Families – they are strong advocates for family support and have been fantastic partners in the goal of expanding the network of Family Support Centers throughout the state of Maryland,” said Maryland Family Network Chief Program Officer Nellie Power.
“These Centers support those truly in need, including to families of those with loved ones preparing for re-entry from incarceration,” added Maryland Family Network Family Support Network Director Karen Brown. “And, we are so excited Howard County has joined our network of Centers.”
The County’s OCF promotes the well-being of children birth to five years old by providing services and supports to their families and caregivers, as well as supports the initiatives of the Early Childhood Advisory Council. OFC offers a wide array of services and resources to promote healthy development, school readiness and strengthen families. To learn more about OCF and its programs and services, visit http://www.howardcountymd.gov/children-families.
To learn more about the FSC, visit http://www.howardcountymd.gov/children-families/family-support-center or call 410-313-CARE (2273).