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N.C. Family Resource Centers Support Children, Families

The Family Resource Center at Emma leads groups, including Motheread, which teaches the importance of reading between a mother and child. Norma Duran Brown leads the class (right). Credit: Children First/Communities in Schools
The Family Resource Center at Emma leads groups, including Motheread, which teaches the importance of reading between a mother and child. Norma Duran Brown leads the class (right). Credit: Children First/Communities in Schools
October 8, 2015

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - As many people wait for the economic recovery to benefit them, communities across the state count on family resource centers to help support parents in the form of food-and-clothing access, parent education and after school care.

Since public schools touch the lives of millions of families and children every day, resource centers such as the Family Resource Center at Emma in Asheville make their home on the campus of elementary schools. Allison Jordon is executive director with Children First/Communities in Schools (CIS) in Buncombe County, and helps administer the center.

"Family resource centers in general are a place where people can get the help they need and give the help they need. They're a place where we can create community," says Jordan.

Today the Family Resource Center at Emma is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The center opened in 1995 when residents of the community experienced job loss, plant closings, increased school drop-out rates and a shortage of affordable housing. Last year the center distributed 609 food boxes to 164 families and helped more than 200 parents in the form of parenting classes and case management services.

With a large population of Latino students and families, the Family Resource Center at Emma helps immigrant families understand the education system, as well as navigate other aspects of life in the U.S., explains Norma Duran Brown, the Latino outreach coordinator for Children First/Communities in Schools.

"Parenting is challenging for everybody, but when you add immigration status, plus not speaking the language, parents feel very disempowered," says Duran Brown.

There are dozens of family resource centers across North Carolina, located in disadvantaged communities to help support families and children. Jordan says when many parents are working long hours to make ends meet, the support is vital to the families' success and ability to advance economically.

"There's after school needs for the children, such as help with their homework," she says. "There's basic needs for the families. If parents are working then they do need that help after school and during the weekend."

Jordan says family resource centers are successful in increasing test scores and reading capability of children they serve, as well as improving parent access to job training and support.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC