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 follow the above link.
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.
Morning Drop In Program
Calendar, Hours, and Directions
The Amherst Family Center is open to parents, guardians, grandparents and their children September through June.
Drop in to participate in the professionally staffed playroom from 9:00 am-1:00 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9:00 am-noon on Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, during the Fall and Spring, families are welcome to join in a parent provided lunch at 11:50 am.
The AFC is open immediately after Labor Day, Tuesday September 4, 2012, and closes Friday June 21, 2013. The AFC will open again on Tuesday July 9, 2013 and close on Thursday August 15, 2013, on a reduced schedule. During the summer, the AFC will be open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00am-11:30am. The AFC follows the Amherst Regional Public School (ARPS) calendar for the K-12 vacation schedule and federal and state holidays.
Our inclement weather policy follows the Amherst Public School for weather related closings only. From time to time the AFC may also need to have a delayed opening. You can check the Centerís phone (413) 256-1145 after 7:30am daily for up to weather related information.
Click HERE to view the AFC 2012-2013 Calendar.
Click HERE to view the AFC 2013-2014 Calendar.
The Amherst Family Center has moved!
The new AFC location is in downtown Amherst (16 Spring Street) on the eastern side of the Town Common in the Grace Church Parish Hall, entrance in the rear. The Grace Church is located on the corner of Boltwood Ave and Spring Street, between the Lord Jeffery Inn and the Amherst Town Hall.
AFC Daily Drop-In Schedule Fall & Spring
Tuesday and Thursday
9:00 am Center Opens
10:15 am Snack Time
11:25 am Clean-up
11:30 am Circle Time
11:50 am Parent Provided Lunch
12:45 pm Clean-up
12:50 pm Good-bye Song
1:00 pm Center Closes
Wednesday and Friday
9:00 am Center Opens
10:15 am Snack Time
11:25 am Clean-up
11:30 am Circle Time
11:45 am Good-Bye Song
12:00 pm Center Closes
Offering 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. Click Here for more information.
Reach Play Group
Offered in collaboration with ServiceNet REACH Program. This Early Intervention program is a weekly Monday morning play group that integrates infants and toddlers with special needs and their caregivers with other children and caregivers in a play group environment, while providing early intervention and screening. Pre-registration is required.
Offered in collaboration with The Highland Valley Elder Services Inc.. 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. Grandparent Mentor meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30am-11:15am.
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. MotherWoman meets on Wednesdays from 9:45am-11:15am. Click Here to lean more.
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 a social worker/counselor who is available to provide home visits, counseling and individual service plans to participating parents. Parents Together meets on Thursdays from 9:30am-10:30am. Call AFC for more information.
English Language Conversation
The group is an opportunity to join in conversation with other English language learner families, building language acquisition and parenting skills. Meets Fridays from 10:00am-11:15am, starting date TBA.
Young Ones Active Play
A childrens play group encouraging physical activity, supporting developmentally and age -appropriate acquisition of gross motor skills. The group is facilitated by AFCs professional staff and equipment includes and obstacle course with a tunnel, large ball and slide. This group is not available at this time, please stay tuned for when this program will become available.
Community Excursions, Explore Downtown Amherst
Guided walking family field trips. The goals of the group are to acquaint and aid the integration of caregivers with local opportunities for their young children in the area. Places visited may include: Sweester Park, Amherst Town Mural, Fire Station, Town Hall, War Memorial Playground, and Amherst College Japanese Garden. Downtown Excursions will begin in Spring 2013 on Fridays from 9:45am-11:15am; starting date TBA. Weather Dependent.
Stroller Walk and Talk
A Stroller Power Walk supporting new mothers physical well being while building connections with peers. Stroller Walk and Talk meets Thursdays 9:30am-11:00am; starting date TBA. Weather Dependent.
NEW: 2 BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT GROUPS ON THE 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the Month&Infant Space in Back Room space.
To better support breastfeeding moms and families we are offering two groups at the AFC on Tuesday mornings. When these groups are not in session our back area will be reserved for parents and infants.
Nursing Mothers 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 discussion, answer questions and provide evidence-based information. The topics are based on the needs and interests of attendees. The Council also offers a free lending library with many great books on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting. This group will meet the first Tuesday of the month from 9:30am - 11:00am, beginning October 2nd. For more information on NMC, visit http://www.bace-nmc.org.
La Leche League
The La Leche League International mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support. This local group meets on the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 9:45am-11:15am, beginning October 16, 2012.
Dads Support/DadsNight 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
In an effort to ensure the AFC represents the needs of participating families, a Family Advisory Council meets monthly. The Councils composition reflects the diverse constituency of its participants.
The Advisory Council is also committed to fundraising for the AFCs activities. The Council produces the Apple Harvest and Crafts Festival. This is the AFCs largest fundraising event and it has has provided a large portion of the AFCs operating budget for 23 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, 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 sons first two-word combination was family center; my daughter talks non-stop about her friends here, both children and staff. I cant tell you how many parenting tips I have picked up, and how many dark, sleep-deprived days were made bearable by the AFC. Its 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
Location: Grace Church Parish Hall (entrance in rear) 16 Spring Street Amherst, MA
All mail correspondence should be directed to The Office of Family Resources
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