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.
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.
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.
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.
For up to date program information and closings, please "Like" us on Facebook.
Participate in the professionally staffed drop-in playroom on Monday through Friday from 9:00AM-12:00PM. On Wednesdays, join in a family 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
The AFC's 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 8:00AM week-days for up-to-date weather related information.
Location and Directions
The Amherst Family Center is located at 1200 North Pleasant Street North Amherst, at the junction of Rt.63 and Rt. 116. The program is accessible by 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 campus's North Village Apartments. 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 PM Snack Time
11:20 AM Clean-up
11:30PM Circle Time
11:45 am Good-bye Song
12:00 pm Center Closes
Offerings may change monthly, please call the AFC for the most complete up to information.
Parenting Young Children workshop series in Chinese. These programs occur monthly, Tuesday evenings, 6:00PM7:30PM.
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 Mentoring Group & Classroom Presence
The AFC's Grandparent Mentor is available Tuesdays and Thursdays in the classroom. She also offers a parenting special programming for caregiving grandparents of young children. The Mentor's presence helps to create 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.
Upcoming Special Grandparent Mentor Events:
1) Join us for a Caregiving Grandparents Meet & Greet with Anne Marie Metzler on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 from 9:30AM-10:30AM.
2) Join us for a Reading Reception with Anne Marie Metzler, author of Coming of Age, on Friday, April 8, 2016 from 10:00AM-11:30AM.
3) Join us for a 4-Week Memoir Writing Workshop with Anne Marie Metzler beginning on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 from 9:00AM-10:15AM.
ESL Intermediate Conversation Group
Parents and Grandparents, join AFC mom and experienced ESL teacher Daniela Cazacu for an intermediate-level ESL conversation group. 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 Volunteer Sally Olakanpo for a beginners-level English conversation group Sally is a trained ESL teacher and brings her experience to help others learn English. This group meets on Tuesday mornings from 9:00AM-10:00AM.
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 meets on Thursdays from 9:45AM to 11:15AM.
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, practice ways to de-stress our family lives so we can better care for ourselves and our children. Thursdays 9:30AM-11:15AM. Pre-registration is required. Please contact Jaime Bersch at 978-413-7923 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. Pre-register on site with the AFC Coordinator.
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 Coordinator on-site if interested.
AFC Family Advisory Programming Council
The volunteer Parent and Grandparent Council provides direction and support for AFC programming. The Council is also committed to fundraising for the program at the program's annual Apple Harvest Festival held in September.
Fundraising efforts for the AFC are directed and overseen by the UMASS Office of Family Resources(OFR). The AFC is a program of the OFR as well as a partner agency of the Hampshire County United Way. The AFC receives additional program support through: the MA State Department of Early Education & Care through the Collaborative for Educational Services, Highland Valley Elder Services, the UMASS Graduate Student Senate, 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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