Just outside of New Martinsville on Route 7 is the Wetzel County Center for Children and Families, a family resource center. Many might not know just what all a family resource center includes, and might be pleasantly surprised to find out the variety of resources readily available for families, and individuals.
A popular program, stationed at the center, is the Parents As Teachers program. This program is a no-cost program that provides early education to children and their families in Wetzel and Tyler counties. Information is provided in the comfort of the family's home, at the family's convenience. Parents As Teachers serve ages, pre-natal and through the child's entry into kindergarten.
Kim Eagleson, parent educator, noted that the program is available to anyone, that there are no income guidelines. Two home visits are conducted, per month, by parent educators in the PAT program. These home visits are done at the convenience of the family. During each home visit, the parent educator provides the family with a learning activity to do with their child. Parent educators provide education on the new skills that the activity teaches the child. PAT conducts developmental screenings so that parents will know if their child is meeting milestones, and PAT can refer families to a service that can help, if the child is not meeting milestones.
Photo by Lauren Matthews
Pictured is just a sample of the items available at the Wetzel County Center for Children and Families’ baby pantry.
Eagleson said parent educators can provide resources, discover where a child is developmentally, and offer nutritional advice as well.
Eagleson noted that parent educators, themselves, take part in a rigorous training to become certified. Thus, parent educators take their roles seriously, yet also engage in a good and supportive relationship with parents.
Currently, the Wetzel/Tyler PAT program is serving approximately 40 families. A satellite WCCCF office, which offers a connection to the PAT program, is also located in Hundred.
Another treasure tucked away at the WCCCF is the baby pantry. This resource offers clothing to families who might be in need. The resource was mainly spearheaded at the center by Regina Reynolds, family resource center coordinator. The pantry offers clothing, diapers, toys, bath items, and other baby care supplies. According to Eagleson, families can visit quarterly. "If you need it, you can have it," Eagleson said of items in the pantry. Donations to the pantry are also welcomed, of course.
The opportunity for social interaction is also available for families during Friday playgroups. During playgroup, 10-11:30 a.m., kids are able to partake in story time, participate in craft time, and have a snack. The playgroup offers a way for children, and their parents, to socialize. The playgroup's "Big Room Play Area," located inside the WCCCF is climate controlled, and most of the floor is a soft rubber material. There are several engaging toys in the area, along with several large pieces of jungle-gym-like equipment.
The "Big Room Play Area" is also available for rental for birthday parties and other special events. The cost is $35 per hour, which helps pay for upkeep up the area. This also supports the cost of having someone at the center present to lock/unlock the center.
While at playgroup, parents might also take advantage of the opportunity of having their child's car-seat checked. Several at the center are certified Child Passenger Safety technicians. One might recall that during summer of 2016, the WCCCF and Gabriel Project joined forces to hold a car-seat checking event, also sponsored by the Governor's Highway Safety Program. Eagleson noted that several car-seats were not properly installed, and three car-seats were given away at the event, due to parents not having the proper seat installed.
However, Eagleson noted, there is nothing for parents to be ashamed of if they do fail an inspection offered by one of the technicians.
"We just want children to be safe," she noted.
Another program offered at the WCCCF is "Walk With Me." When this program is held, parents and their children are invited to head to the 4-H grounds and participate in a two mile (approximate) stroll. The walks are held during nice-weather days and take place at around 10 a.m., prior to the hottest part of the day. Eagleson noted that this program is also available at the WCCCF satellite station in Hundred.
"Walk With Me" is one of the many programs Eagleson is passionate about. Besides being a Parent Educator, Eagleson also wears another hat - as a Nutrition and Wellness Coordinator. Eagleson is available to offer anyone, adult or child, advice on nutrition and wellness. Eagleson possesses a bachelor's degree in Nutrition Science, and she can offer advice on meal planning, nutrition basics, healthy recipes, and more. This also ties into Eagleson's role as a Parent Educator in that she can offer families advice on healthy snack options. Notably, this service is free.
For more information on the Wetzel County Centenr for Children and Families, and the services offered there, check out wcccfwv.org
Or, check out the center's Facebook page at "Wetzel County Center For Children and Families." The center can be reached, by phone, by calling 304-455-2468.