UMass Amherst

Amherst Family Center

Helping people be the best caregivers they can be.

Since its founding in 1986, the core mission of the Amherst Family Center (AFC) has remained constant: empowering women and men of diverse backgrounds to succeed as parents, grandparents, and caregivers. The AFC is open to any Hampshire County or University affiliated family with young children birth to 5 years. The AFC is part of a larger state and county wide network of local area family centers. For a listing of additional family centers in the area click here or click here.

The AFC is also a partner of the Hampshire County United Way Partner Network, for a comprehensive list of partner organizations in the area.

The program provides a safe and enriching environment for children along with peer support, respite, and education for the nurturers.

The AFC provides families with an array of parenting education workshops and support groups, parent-to-parent peer support, and respite from the overall pressures of parenting. Parents receive information on child development, parenting, role modeling, and direct instruction on positive adult-child interactions. Children have the opportunity for early socialization experiences and are screened for developmental needs. The AFC is unique to the Western Massachusetts region. It is the only local family center that is staffed with early childhood/parent educators as well as a coordinator.

Ten reasons to go to the AFC:
1. Services are FREE for you and your family.
2. A safe, enriching and supportive space.
3. Diversity is valued and celebrated.
4. A great opportunity to meet other families.
5. A place for you and your child to develop new friendships.
6. Staffed by caring professionals who are knowledgeable about child development.
7. A place to share your parenting stories with other parents.
8. A safe place for your child to explore and grow.
9. Participate in parent skill building programs and support groups.
10. Get resources and referrals that meet the needs of your unique family situation.

Click here to view the Amherst Family Center brochure in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Arabic.

Morning Drop In Program

Calendar, Hours, and Directions

The Amherst Family Center is open to parents, guardians, grandparents with young children September through July. The Center is closed in August.

The AFC will be closed on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday November 25th, 26th, and 27th for the Thanksgiving break. Visit our website at and check out our fall programs.

Participate in the professionally staffed drop-in playroom on Monday through Friday from 9:00am-12:00pm. On Wednesdays, join in a parent sponsored lunch from 11:15am until the Center closes at 12:00pm.


The AFC follows the Amherst Regional Public School calendar for the K-12 vacation schedule and federal and state holidays. ARPS

Our inclement weather policy follows the Amherst Regional Public School policy for weather related closings ONLY. From time to time the AFC may also need to have a delayed opening. Call the AFC phone, (413) 256-1145, after 7:30am daily for up-to-date weather related information.

Location and Directions

The Amherst Family Center is located at 1200 North Pleasant Street North Amherst, MA 01002. The AFC is located across the street from the North Amherst Public Library at the intersection of Rt. 63, Pine Street and North Pleasant Street. The AFC is on the second floor of the old brick schoolhouse; entrance in the rear. PVTA Bus 31, 33,and 46 Bus 31 from UMass/Downtown Amherst stops across the intersection from the AFC at the "North Amherst Center/House of Teriyaki" stop. The AFC is a short walk (5-10 minutes) from the UMass Amherst North Village Apartments and Puffton Village. There is limited parking available on site. Click Here for detailed instructions and an area map.

AFC Daily Drop-In Schedule Fall & Spring


9:00 am Center Opens

10:00 am Snack Time

11:20 am Clean-up

11:30 am Circle Time

11:45 am Good-bye Song

12:00 pm Center Closes

Sample Offerings

Offerings may change monthly, please call the AFC for more information.

Join us for multi-week "Parenting Young Children" workshops in Chinese. December 8, 2015.

Tours for Expecting Parents

Come learn about what the AFC has to offer. An AFC Advisory Council Member will lead you on an informational tour of the AFC and answer any questions you may have. Call (413) 256-1145 to schedule a tour.

Grandparent Mentor

The group creates a safe place where grandparents of diverse backgrounds and parenting styles can come together to create community, break isolation and talk about issues relevant to parenting grandchildren or interacting with their own children about parenting their grandchildren. Our Grandparent Mentor is available to meet with caregivers on site on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00am-12:00pm.

ESL Intermediate Conversation Group

Parents and Grandparents, join AFC mom and experienced ESL teacher Daniela Cazacu for an intermediate-level ESL conversation group at the Amherst Family Center. Daniela is volunteering her services as an ESL teacher to help us build an intentional multi-cultural parenting community. This group meets on Monday mornings from 10:00am-11:00am.

English Conversation Group for Beginners

Parents and Grandparents, join Sally Olakanpo for a beginners-level English conversation group at the Amherst Family Center. Sally is a trained English Language Learner teacher and brings her experience to help others learn English. This group meets on Tuesday mornings from 9:00am-10:00am beginning on Tuesday, October 6th.

Getting Real about Motherhood

Offered in collaboration with MotherWoman. The group provides an opportunity for all mothers, particularly new mothers, to come together and share their experiences, helping them make sense of the adjustment to and complexities of motherhood. Expectant mothers welcome.The MotherWoman group will meet on Thursdays from 9:45 to 11:15. Please plan to arrive at 9:30 to allow time to settle-in so the group may start on time. The first group will meet on September 24th.

Parents Together

Offered in collaboration with Positive Parenting, a program of the United Arc of Franklin & Hampshire Counties. In this group parents talk honestly about how tough parenting can be. Together we practice ways to de-stress our family lives so we can care for ourselves and our children. Child care provided. Thursdays 9:30-11:15, September 24th through November 12th. Pre-registration is required. Please contact Kris Larson at 413-834-3344 or

Infant Massage

Enhance your connection with your new infant with infant massage. Learn techniques from a certified facilitator (Infant Massage USA) that can help your baby relax and sleep better, as well as aid digestion. This is a 4-class series that will meet in February and March.

Stroller Walk and Talk

A Stroller Power Walk supporting new mothers physical well being while building connections with peers. Weather Dependent.

Dads Supporting Dads/Dad\'s Night Out

A group of AFC Dads are trying to form a monthly support/social group for fathers. Contact AFC directly if interested.

AFC Family Advisory Council

This group of caregivers provides direction and support for AFC programming. The AFC Advisory Council is open to all and will next meet on the 4th Monday of the month at 10:00am at the AFC. Please contact the AFC if you are interested. Meeting dates: 11/23/15, 1/25/16, 2/22/16, 3/28/16, 4/25/16, 5/23/16, 8/22/16

The AFC Advisory Council is also committed to fundraising for the AFC. The AFC Advisory Council produces the Annual Apple Harvest Crafts Fair and Children\'s Festival this year on September 24th. This is the AFC\'s largest fundraising event and it has provided a large portion of the AFC\'s operating budget for 29 years.

Funding Support

Fundraising efforts for the AFC are directed by the Office of Family Resources. The Amherst Family Center (AFC) is a program of the Office of Family Resources University of Massachusetts Amherst and a partner agency of the Hampshire County United Way; the AFC receives additional program support through: the CFCE Program Town of Amherst, the MA Department of EEC through the Collaboration for Educational Services, Highland Valley Elder Services, The Amherst Club, individuals, and faith-based organizations.

Family Testimonials

A wide range of Amherst and Hampshire County families participate in AFC activities including student parents, academic families, working parents, teen parents, grandparents and caregivers.

"The AFC has played an enormous role in my family. My son\'s first two-word combination was family center; my daughter talks non-stop about her friends here, both children and staff. I can\'t tell you how many parenting tips I have picked up, and how many dark, sleep-deprived days were made bearable by the AFC. It\'s a sanity break for me, and I know I am not alone when I say that." - Parent

"When I volunteered to take care of my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter three days a week, it turned out to be harder than I had anticipated. Then I discovered the Amherst Family Center. We were greeted by other parents, grandparents, teachers, volunteers, and young children. What a joy! I could talk to other adults while she played with children and was guided into activities by the skilled teachers. There is a friendly, community feeling about the center. At circle time people of all ages and ethnic groups are singing together. I think her experience at the center was responsible for her easy transition into preschool. Now I am enjoying being in the Grandparent Support Group. What a great place!" - Grandparent

AFC Contact Information

Tel: (413) 256-1145
Location: 1200 North Pleasant Street Amherst, MA 01002 (entrance in the rear)

All mail correspondence should be directed to the Office of Family Resources: Room 428 Student Union Building, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003.

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