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.
Morning Drop In Program
Calendar, Hours, and Directions
The Amherst Family Center is open to parents, guardians, grandparents with young children September through July.
Participate in the professionally staffed drop-in playroom on Monday through Friday from 9:00am-12:00pm. Beginning Wednesday, October 1st, join in a parent sponsored lunch from 11:15am until the Center closes at 12:00pm.
The AFC will be closed Wednesday, December 24th through Sunday, January 4th. The Center will reopen on Monday, January 5th at 9:00am for our regularly scheduled programs.
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
Offerings may change monthly, please call the AFC for more information.
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.
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 Mondays,Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00am-12:00pm.
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 Fridays 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.
Offered in collaboration with Positive Parenting, a program of the United Arc of Franklin & Hampshire Counties. The group helps learning challenged parents succeed as parents and is facilitated by Parent Educators. Call AFC for more information. Pre-registration is required.
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. Dates for 2015 will be announced later in the fall.
Stroller Walk and Talk
A Stroller Power Walk supporting new mothers physical well being while building connections with peers. Weather Dependent.
Nursing Mother's Council Breastfeeding Support Group
All new and experienced mothers and mothers-to-be are invited to come and support one another at a Nursing Mothers Gathering. Melissa Warwick, accredited Nursing Mothers Counselor and mother will facilitate a discussion, answer questions and provide evidence-based information. The topics are based on the needs and interests of attendees. The Nursing Mother's Council also offers a free lending library with many great books on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting. This group will meet on Monday, October 6th,then on the second Monday of the month (January 12, February 9, March 16, April 13, May 11, and June 8) from 10:30am - 12:00pm. Click here to learn more about Nursing Mother's Council in New England.
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 will meet on the first Wednesday of every month from 9:00-10:00am and is open to all. Please contact the AFC if you are interested.
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 each September. This is the AFC's largest fundraising event and it has has provided a large portion of the AFC's operating budget for 27 years.
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.
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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