Enriching Families: KFRC is all about boosting bonding of parent, child

Photos by Iola Brubaker KFRC staff member Kathy Williams plays with an infant during "Tummy Time" playgroup at The Tree House Indoor Playground.

The Keweenaw Family Resource Center strives to help parents build relationships with their children.

The center has been working towards hosting many different programs and events to work toward this goal for the past 26 years.

“Our mission is to enrich, strengthen and support family life in the Keweenaw area for families with young children,” said KFRC Director Iola Brubaker.

“For the last 26 years, we have been providing programs to build and strengthen lives,” said Brubaker.”

With its six staff members and multiple volunteers, the center serves over 1,000 families, which totals to over 1,600 children a year through all of the different programs.

Photos from Iola Brubaker Bennett and his mom Tessa Dvorak do a painting activity during a "Mommy, Daddy and Me" playgroup at the Tree House Indoor Playground.

The center’s programs are mostly for children from age zero to 4. After their fifth birthday, they have a “graduation ceremony.”

There a few age exceptions for children with disabilities. The center’s T.R.A.I.N.S program goes to age five.

T.R.A.I.N.S stands for Targeting Reflex development And Improving Neuro-sensory-motor Skills. The program provides free occupational therapy in group and individual sessions.

“It’s for children that don’t necessarily qualify for an individual education plan or an IEP, but need a little extra assistance with working on some developmental delays.”

The program’s assistance is based on the child’s need and developmental issues. After the child’s evaluation, a treatment plan is designed to help.

Below, the Tree House Indoor Playground is open to children 0 through 4 years old and their parents/caregivers.

The center’s Tree House is the most popular thing that it has. “It’s the only indoor playground in the area,” said Brubaker.

The tree house has been there since 2009. Brubaker said it’s there to provide a play area for 0 to 4-year-olds.

Most of the center’s programs have been going on for years.

“When something works well, why change it,” she said.

Some other things that the center offers are playgroups, tummy time and the welcome baby program.

Tummy time is another long-standing program they host for children 0-12 months.

It “helps new moms get out and meet other new moms. They can meet people they have things in common with, develop social contacts and more,” said Brubaker. “There are different materials and information on child development provided and activities they can do with the kids at home”

The Welcome Baby Program has a hospital visitor that visits all of the newborns at Aspirus and Portage Health.

“She greets the family and provides them with a bag of information with a gift inside of it,” said Brubaker.

The information is for early childhood programs in the community.

“When you’re a new parent, sometimes it can be overwhelming,” said Brubaker.

In addition to these programs, they provide ASQs, ages and stages questionnaires. It is a developmental screening for those who may be questioning their child’s progress.

After the screening, they provide feedback and results. If there are any problems, they connect the parent to resources that specialize in the area needed.

“All of our programs are strength-based. We try to focus on the families strengths and build on them,” said Brubaker.

The center is the place to go for family bonding.

The center will be ringing in the year with its free Ring in the New Year Snowshoeing and Sledding event on Jan. 13 at the Nara Nature Trails. It will be from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

It features an outdoor scavenger hunt and a Story Walk along the trail. Everyone is welcome.

Refreshments and activities will be provided inside as well.

The center provides snowshoes to borrow for the scavenger hunt and story walk.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun. Every year it grows and gets bigger,” said Brubaker.

Families are welcome to bring sleds. They want “to get families out and enjoying the winter weather,” said Brubaker.

“We come together and celebrate not just the new year but the culture of the Keweenaw. We embrace the winter and enjoy it together,” said Brubaker.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun. Every year it grows and gets bigger,” said Brubaker.

Families are welcome to bring sleds. They want “to get families out and enjoying the winter weather,” said Brubaker.

“We come together and celebrate not just the new year but the culture of the Keweenaw. We embrace the winter and enjoy it together,” said Brubaker.

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