What are Family Resource Centers? Celebrating 2024 by Looking Back

As we turn the corner from the holiday season to the new year, we hold warm memories of being with our (given or chosen) families and friends in our hearts.

We spent our time with one another, listening and sharing stories. It’s a time to see and be seen by the people we love; through enjoying time together and gift-giving – rituals of caring for one another. We are all reminded of how important the support we give and get is on our journeys.

When I look back over the previous year at the Sauer Family Foundation (my 18th year!), I see a resurgence in communities caring for their families. Communities across the state are assessing their family services, collaborating, and creating new services to fill the gaps.

The staff at the Sauer Family Foundation are especially grateful for communities that are exploring the national Family Resource Center (FRC) model across our state. FRCs serve families in a one-stop, safe environment.

Scott County recently created a model of FRCs that exist to meet the needs of their diverse population across the county. Their model provides a family-friendly atmosphere for parents to talk to a family navigator who helps them connect with community-based organizations for housing, food, childcare, or other concrete supports. They even help parents check their eligibility for government benefits.

Scott County Family Resource Center’s front entrance.

And just as important as access to services is the programming and classes that help families connect to their community. At a time when we understand the devastating effects of social isolation on mental health, these connections nourish the well-being of both parents and children. Parenting is a difficult job in the best of circumstances, but without community connections it can be crushing.

FRCs offer a variety of services, from parent education to connecting with community members.

Currently, we have 16 Minnesota counties in some phase of exploring the services they have for families and the gaps in services they need to address. They are listening to families and developing FRCs to make more resources accessible.

The National Family Support Network (NFSN) supports FRCs while holding them to high-quality standards. NFSN establishes that FRCs are made by, for, and of the community. For example, they require a Parent Advisory Council to create a continual feedback loop to stay in touch with the needs of local families. NFSN is providing training and technical assistance for our counties and community-based providers as the network of FRCs grows in Minnesota.

An easy checklist allows parents to get the resources they need quickly.
Often, FRCs provide a play area for kids while the parent meets with family navigators.

The staff at FRCs acknowledge the importance of family well-being. They help them thrive through easy access to the resources they need while meeting the needs of children. Often, FRCs provide a play area for kids while the parent meets with the family navigators. When we support our families holistically, we see an increase in the well-being of the whole community.

In 2024, the Sauer Family Foundation will continue our work in supporting Family Resource Centers and other programs that see the needs of children and work to strengthen the well-being of children and families. We hope you thrive in the new year.

– Colleen