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Support Your Family

At some point, every family needs support. Every family deserves access to the supports available in Wisconsin when that time comes. Here are some great resources that can guide you in accessing needed supports:

Wisconsin-Based Parent Cafés

Parenting can be tough. Many parents struggle with feelings of inadequacy because they feel overwhelmed, have difficulty meeting their family’s basic needs, or simply feel alone. Despite these feelings, the truth is that most parents are doing their best to support and nurture their children. But sometimes parents need a little support too.

That is where Parent Cafés come in. Parent Cafés guide parents to explore the Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors in a small group setting through a peer-to-peer learning process and individual self-reflection. Cafés provide a safe and nurturing environment for parents to have authentic, intimate conversations about their families and ways that they can strengthen their families and communities. Parents build enhanced social and emotional skills and learn how to proactively respond to challenging situations. Throughout this process parents acquire the leadership skills necessary to engage, train and lead Parent Cafés within their own community.

Learn More About The Protective Factors

Parent Cafés are grounded in building the five Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors. These Protective Factors act as buffers against elements that place children and families at risk for situations of child abuse and neglect:

  • Resilience
    Parent Resilience- Be Strong and Flexible.  As parents, in order to deal with the stressors of life, we need to be strong and flexible, and we need to be able to bounce back when adversity hits.  When we as parents are psychologically and emotionally healthy we are better able to consider long-term solutions instead of just reacting to every situation as it comes up.  It helps to have role models, resources, and encouragement to be able to deal with challenges while nurturing your children, especially if you were treated harshly as a child.  Family-serving programs can help us form trusting friendships with people who can help us stay healthy and resilient.  By creating a welcoming atmosphere; providing time, space, and opportunities for supportive relationships to develop among parents; and being available to parents for informal conversation or formal problems solving, staff and other parents at these programs help us become and stay resilient by encouraging us and providing us with concrete strategies.
  • Relationships
    Social Connections- Parents Need Friends.  When parents have positive, trusted friends in the community, they have a support system for meeting both practical and emotional needs.  We can brainstorm about problems together, give and receive back-up child care, give each other rides, and meet other needs as they come up.  Together, we work out and model the family and community we want to have.  Whether at an after-school program, church, or just on the corner playground, it’s important that we get to know each other so that we know we always have support and we’re not alone in dealing with the challenges of parenting.  These relationships also give us people to celebrate with when things are going well.
  • Knowledge
    Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development- Being a Great Parent is Part Natural and Part Learned. Children don’t come with a manual.
    Parenting is a continuous learning process, and it’s important to understand normal child development so that we can have reasonable expectations for our children. When our children are acting out or engaging in challenging behavior, we need to have good strategies for dealing with that behavior that don’t involve overly harsh punishments. Being involved in a quality family-serving program helps us learn what to expect from our children, and allows us to see how other people effectively manage children’s behavior. We can watch our own children interact with others and strategize with staff and other parent’s ways to resolve problems. We can also request and take parenting education workshops on topics we’re interested in.
  • Support
    Concrete Support in Times of Need- Everybody Needs Help Sometimes. Everybody needs helps sometimes, and families that can get help when they need it are able to stay strong and healthy.  It is a sign of strength to ask for help when you need it.  Whether the need is caused by a sudden crisis- like a death in the family or loss of employment- or an ongoing issue such as substance abuse or depression, being able to ask for and receive help is important in keeping our families strong.  Sometimes the first step in getting help is seeing that our children’s well-being depends on it.  Often it takes a caring person in the community to help connect us to what we need, whether it is job training, transportation, food assistance, or mental health services.  Parents and staff of family-serving programs band together to help families going through difficult times and provide various kinds of concrete support, including food and clothing.
  • Communication
    Social and Emotional Competence of Children – Parents Need to Help Their Children Communicate. Children need to learn how to manage their emotions, express their needs and feelings, deal with conflict, and get along with others. When children can do these things, our job as parents becomes less stressful.  There are quality programs – family support, early childhood education, after-school, and other programs – that help children develop social and emotional skills and work with parents to understand children’s feelings and behavior. They can help us understand what is normal and what is not for children in a given age group, and they can help detect signs that a child has special needs or developmental disabilities or has suffered trauma.  They can work with parents to intervene effectively and get specialized help.

Learn more about the Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors on the Be Strong Family website. Find more Strengthening Families™ initiatives for parents and child care providers at this online database.

Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) is partnering with agencies in 11 counties across Wisconsin to offer Parent Cafés to Wisconsin parents. This opportunity is available with funding from Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant through the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.

Check out what these parents participating in Parent Cafés had to say about their experiences:
Gary, Green Bay, WI

Victoria, Hayward, WI

Check out our What Works in Family Support blog and our Parent Café Pinterest board for more information and inspiration surrounding Parent Cafés.

SFTA, in partnership with local WI agencies, has Parent Cafés available in the following counties
  • Portage County: Parent Cafés held by Childcaring Inc. in partnership with CAP Services Inc. Early Childhood Development. Contact: 1 (800) 749.5437
  • Polk County: Parent Cafés held by Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley Inc. in partnership with Community Referral Agency. Contact: 1 (715) 684.4440
  • Sheboygan County: Parent Cafés held by Family Connections Inc. in partnership with Sheboygan County Head Start. Contact: 1 (800) 322.2046
  • Trempealeau & Dunn Counties: Parent Cafés held by Child Care Partnership Resource & Referral Center in partnership with Western Dairyland Head Start. Contact: 1 (800) 782.1880
  • Washburn County: Parent Cafés held by Lakeland Family Resource Center in partnership with Indianhead Community Action Agency Early Head Start. Contact: 1 (715) 635.4669
  • Rock County: Parent Cafés held by 4-C in partnership with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Exchange Family Resource Center and Rock-Walworth Comprehensive Family Services, Inc. Head Start/Early Head Start. Contact: 1 (800) 750.KIDS
  • Lafayette County: Parent Cafés held by Family Connections of Southwest Wisconsin in partnership with Head Start and CESA 3. Contact: 1 (800) 267.1018
  • Monroe County: Parent Cafés held by The Parenting Place in partnership with the Tomah Area School District and a Parent Representative. Contact: 1 (800) 873.1769
  • St. Croix County: Parent Cafés held by Child Care Partnership Resource & Referral Center in partnership with Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley and Adulteen Counseling, LLC. Contact: 1 (800) 782.1880
  • Sawyer County: Parent Cafés held by Northwest Connection Family Resources in partnership with Hayward Community Schools and UW Extension of Sawyer County. Contact 1 (800) 733.KIDS
  • Brown County: Parent Cafés held by Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W. (CCR&R and FRC) in partnership with Brown County United Way. Contact: 1 (800) 738.8899
  • Winnebago County: Parent Cafés held by Child Care Resource & Referral, Inc. in partnership with UW- Oshkosh Head Start and Parent Connection. Contact: 1 (800) 749.KIDS
  • Marquette County: Parent Cafés held by Childcaring, Inc. in partnership with Marquette County Human Services and Parent Information Exchange. Contact: 1 (800) 628.8534
  • Fond du Lac County: Parent Cafés held by Family Connections, Inc. in partnership with Family Resource Center of Fond du Lac County, Inc. and ADVOCAP Head Start.
  • Milwaukee County: Parent Cafés held by 4C for Children in partnership with Malaika Early Learning Center and Jewish Community Center. Contact: 1 (800) 300.5999
  • Racine County: Parent Cafés held by 4C for Children in partnership with St. Edwards Child Development Center, and Racine County UW-Extension. Contact: 1 (262) 633.0959
  • Marathon County (*Inclusion): Parent Cafés held by Childcaring Inc., in partnership with Children’s Services Society of Wisconsin and the Northern Regional Center for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs. Contact: 1 (800) 628.8534
  • Dane County (*Inclusion, *In Spanish): Parent Cafés held by 4-C in partnership with Catholic Multicultural Center and CESA 5. Contact: 1 (800) 750.KIDS

Family Resource Centers

Family Resource Centers (FRCs) provide services and support systems that emphasize and build on family strengths. Each Family Resource Center is unique, but there are commonalities across programs. FRCs primarily focus on parents or primary caregivers and their children from prenatal through early childhood, and offer a wide range of services to meet the individual needs of each family and community. Specific services each center offers may be located at the center, in homes or at other locations in the community. In Wisconsin, FRCs may provide a combination of any of these core services and more:

  • Group services: delivering parent education courses, workshops, support groups, drop-in programs, respite care, and play groups.
  • Individual services: providing families with personal consultations and support through services such as warm-lines, home visits, supervised visitation or safe exchange programs.
  • Outreach and family visiting services: reaching out to parents and families in their homes or in other community-based locations convenient for families. This might be through collaborations with birthing hospitals to connect with new families, through community response to ensure families have support in times of need or through universal services such as car seat checks.
  • Community resource and referral and follow-up services: offering a reliable link to public and private agencies and providing strong family advocacy within local communities. Families can receive referrals to other community programs, public benefits, as well as assistance with transportation.

Find a Family Resource Center near you

Home Visiting Programs

Home Visiting is a voluntary service provided in the homes of pregnant women, and families with children from birth to five years. Evidence-based Home Visiting models have been proven to improve maternal and child health, child development, school readiness, positive parenting, and to decrease child maltreatment. These models also provide guidelines for key Home Visiting program components, including: recommended populations to serve, duration and frequency of service delivery, and staff education and training. Wisconsin offers five Evidence-Based Home Visiting Models to families throughout the state. The programs available are:

  • Early Head Start – Home-based Model (EHS)
  • Healthy Families of America (HFA)
  • Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY)
  • Nurse Family Partnership (NFP)
  • Parents As Teachers  (PAT)

To learn more about Evidence Based Home Visiting and each model click here!

Find a home visiting program near you to begin your journey and get additional support regarding your child’s development! Download Evidence Based Home Visiting Programs in WI for descriptions of WI home visiting programs.

To update your agency’s Evidence Based Home Visiting information please contact Connie Dunlap at Supporting Families Together Association via email connie@supportingfamiliestogether.org or phone 1.888.713.KIDS (5437).

Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R)

Wisconsin’s Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies work within 8 regions of the state, serving all 72 counties and 11 tribes to ensure that Wisconsin’s youngest children have high quality early childhood experiences. CCR&Rs have something to offer everyone, whether they are a family looking for care or supports, early care and education providers in need of professional development opportunities or communities looking for information, data or solutions.

For Families:

  • Consumer education related to child care.
  • Support to make the most informed choice that is best for their family.
  • A list of referred providers from CCR&Rs based on every family’s unique needs and priorities.
  • Technical assistance regarding child development and parenting strategies.
  • Connections to community resources or supports, so that they are prepared to be successful in raising their family.

Connect with your local Child Care Resource & Referral Agency.

Additional Family Support Resources

Click the “For Parents” tab below, and search for Strengthening Families™ programs and resources that are a fit for your child(ren). Scroll to the bottom of the chart and click the button that reads “full screen” to view in full.

  • Public Health Information & Referral Services for Women, Children & Families is a resource directory that houses family support services including child and maternal health, mental health, family education, supporting children with special needs, and much more.
  • Comprehensive and Aligned System for Early Childhood Screening and Assessment: Wisconsin’s Blueprint, from the Wisconsin Early Childhood Collaborating Partners Healthy Children Committee, offers guidelines for health screening practices for our youngest children.
  • 2-1-1 is a simple, free way to connect all people in need with vital human services for everyday life or in times of crisis. By dialing 2-1-1 anywhere in the state of Wisconsin, people are linked to information about local resources, from both government and nonprofit organizations. From the single parent seeking food for their children to the senior citizen looking for in-home care, 2-1-1 brings people and community resources together.
  • ACCESS is Wisconsin’s online connection to Programs for Health, Nutrition and Child Care. Using this website you can check your eligibility for a variety of benefits available in Wisconsin, including BadgerCare Plus, Food Share and Wisconsin Shares, apply for the benefits you and your family are eligible for and use the login portal to maintain those benefits.
  • CountyOffice.org is a free site that is home to contact information (telephone number, address, email and fax numbers and county clerk websites) for all county clerk and court record offices in each of 50 states of the United States’ 3,143 counties and county equivalents. You can search for contact information by topic, state, and county.
  • Special Education Supports: Check out opportunities for caregivers and parents on the Wisconsin Statewide Special Education Professional Development Calendar from the Wisconsin Statewide Parent Educator Initiative (WSPEI).
  • ConsumerSafety.org is a comprehensive resource offering safety guides for infants and children, families, patients and seniors, as well as publishing important health news, recalls and safety alerts.

See Success for Yourself

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