New FamilySpace Program To Provide Critical Support and Connections for Cuyahoga County Families Through Multi-Agency Collaboration

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CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH – One of the most helpful things for new parents and those raising young children is connecting with and learning from other parents and caregivers going through similar experiences. With today’s launch of the first of four planned FamilySpace locations at the Cuyahoga County Public Library in Garfield Heights, the new program is now delivering that experience to families with children ages 0 to 5. Two important themes run through what families can expect when visiting the FamilySpace program -- making new connections and providing family input.
In addition to gathering to play and socialize, FamilySpace provides information and connections to needed services and resources that support families with young children. These can include referrals to home visiting programs, early childhood mental health support, job training, parenting support, public benefit programs and early literacy programs that build skills that support kindergarten readiness. Each FamilySpace location is facilitated by a trained staff person who listens to what families need and helps make a connection to resources that will help.
Central to keeping FamilySpace relevant and responsive to the needs of parents in the community, the program is implemented in collaboration with a neighborhood-based Family Advisory Committee. This group of volunteers provides guidance to ensure family voice is present in the design and delivery of programs and activities. Moreover, shared decision-making with families is an important means of achieving equity throughout the FamilySpace experience.
FamilySpace is a collaborative effort of the Cuyahoga County Office of Early Childhood/Invest in Children, United Way of Greater Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cleveland Public Library and Family Connections.
Primary funding for FamilySpace is being provided by Invest in Children and United Way of Greater Cleveland. The Cuyahoga County, and City of Cleveland public library systems are providing locations and in-kind programmatic support. Family Connections is a recognized community leader in innovative family-centered programming and will assist with implementation and build capacity for this work in each location.
Three more FamilySpace programs are expected to open before the end of 2022, and will be located at the Hough and Carnegie-West branches of Cleveland Public Library, and the South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch of the Cuyahoga County Library.
Quote from Armond Budish – Cuyahoga County Executive
“Cuyahoga County believes in FamilySpace because our experience shows us that the most effective programs are built through partnerships. Many families aren’t overly concerned with who operates a program. Rather, they just want programs that meet their needs, are accessible, and are high-quality. Programs built on partnerships are best able to meet all three of these important expectations.”
Quote from Tracy Strobel – Chief Executive Officer, Cuyahoga County Public Library
“The FamilySpace model of neighborhood-based service for families with young children is a natural fit for Cuyahoga County Public Library,” said CCPL Chief Executive Officer Tracy Strobel. “We are grateful for the support that Invest in Children and United Way have provided to help us deepen our connection with the families we serve.”
Quote from Kenneth Surratt – Vice President of Community Investment and Chief Investment Officer, United Way of Greater Cleveland
“United Way of Greater Cleveland chose to collaborate on and invest in FamilySpace, because it aligns with our Economic Mobility strategy – a strategy focused on increasing access to familysustaining wages through the creation of additional educational and workforce pathways,” said Ken Surratt, Vice President of Community Investment & Chief Community Investment Officer at United Way of Greater Cleveland. “United Way is excited to partner on this innovative program because we know early childhood programs like this are critical and proven to increase kindergarten readiness in children, which is directly linked to better performance in school, higher graduation rates, and higher quality job placements later in life.”
Quote from Beth Darmstadter - Executive Director, Family Connections
"Libraries have always been a vital resource for communities to find information and build relationships. The Family Spaces are an expansion of those services to include access to Family Strengthening and Support resources which will increase the ability for families with young children to build community and play and thrive."
Quote from Felton Thomas, Jr. – Executive Director and CEO, Cleveland Public Library
"It takes a village to raise a child. And, libraries are essential to the education and growth of families," said Felton Thomas, Jr., Executive Director and CEO of Cleveland Public Library. "The FamilySpace partnership will give children and adults the tools to build strong foundations for the future. At Cleveland Public Library, we look forward to providing this service and creating opportunities for families to win in life."