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Family Resource Center is support for parents and children

For more than 10 years the Family Resource Center has been offering parenting help for area families, including new and teen parent classes, play groups and home visits by professional early childhood educators. From left are Lauren Koshere, marketing and fund development coordinator, Betsy Byker, parent educator and program coordinator, and Patty Draxler, executive director. Photo by Meg Heaton

More than 10 years ago, when a countywide needs assessment pointed to a glaring lack of parent education and support in St. Croix County, the Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley was created.

Today the center, which is centrally located in downtown Baldwin, provides a variety of services for parents and children ages birth to 6 throughout the county. Those services include Play and Learn groups like the one held in Hudson at Bethel Lutheran Church every Tuesday and at seven other locations around the county. Other programs include:

  • Baby and Me and Baby and Me Plus, a play and discussion hour for parents and infants to age 18 months.
  • Positive Parenting, a series to help parents identify what they do well and learn skills they need to strengthen and improve.
  • Teen Parenting Program aimed at the specific issues facing young, first-time singles and couples.
  • Home visits that address specific concerns affecting families.
  • Shaken baby education provided to every newborn's family before the baby and mother leave the hospital.

    All services are free and available to any resident of the county. Participation in any FRC program is voluntary and begins with a referral through organizations or agencies throughout the county. Parents can be referred through their school district, county Health and Human Services, through their church, clinics or hospitals or by contacting the FRC themselves.

    Patty Draxler, FRN executive director, points proudly to the fact that all the parent educators on staff have degrees in related fields and are all certified and trained using the nationally recognized "Parents as Teachers" curriculum.

    "Parenting doesn't come naturally all the time. Children don't come with directions. Our staff can help families navigate the difficult issues we all face as parents."

    Draxler said families in FRC programs don't fit any stereotypes like low income or less education. "There are no classes of just court-referred people. Our parents and children come from all walks of life and circumstances in our groups. We find that the better mix we have, the better understanding and better support the families experience. Our families come willingly."

    The Play and Learn groups help foster positive parent and children interaction as well as positive behavior between siblings and other children. Educators are on hand to help parents explore things like discipline and other behavioral issues.

    Betsy Byker, a parent educator and program coordinator, explained that FRN puts a high priority on serving teen parents. She says they face all the challenges any parent faces from a new baby, but also have added issues typical of teens.

    Byker facilitates teen parent groups. Along with concerns over adjusting to a new baby -- like child development, lack of sleep and tending to an infant's needs -- Byker says teen parents also worry about how they are doing in school, their changing relationship with their baby's father or mother and their friends, and often living with their parents while learning to be a parent themselves.

    "How do you be the mom when you are still living with your mom? Teen parents are encouraged to make decisions, but we can't forget that they are still children themselves in a lot of ways."

    Byker said teen parents, especially those living with their own parents, face a generational struggle. "Many parents have issues with the way they were raised and are determined not to raise their child the same way. Things like spanking used to be OK in previous generations, but with increased violence and abuse in our society today, it isn't now for a lot of parents. We discuss those kinds of things with them and what they want to do differently."

    And she notes that the majority of teen parents come from homes where their mother was a teen parent as well.

    Teen parents meet after school and often both parents attend. Byker said the number of teen fathers in the program is steadily growing and they are increasingly involved with their children beyond just financial support.

    Each week the parent educator introduces a topic and the parents discuss it in addition to sharing their experiences and concerns from the previous week. The program also calls for a home visit once a month. Some school districts offer teen parent credit for participation.

    Teen parents who have participated in the program recently told their stories at the FRC's annual fundraiser, and others have published their experiences in "Our Stories: Teen Parent Program."

    The Family Resource Center does not receive direct state or federal funding and is considered a "non-governmental agency." They rely on private funding from sources like the United Way, area foundations and organizations like the St. Croix Valley Community Foundation, the Hudson Community Fund and Hudson Rotary, individual donations and fundraising. Their next fundraiser is the Collectors' Roadshow scheduled for May 9. Details are noted below with this story.

    Draxler says that the troubled economy is having an impact on the FRC. They have noted an increase in calls and believe more people will be tapping into the resources they offer.

    "Isolation and stress can affect a family in many ways and can be factors that lead to abuse and neglect. As the economy gets worse, parents and families sometimes need help in dealing with things."

    For more information about the Family Resource Center, or to make a donation, call (715) 684-4440 or visit

    Collectors' Roadshow is FRC fundraiser

    The Collectors' Roadshow to benefit the Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley will be May 9 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Hudson Golf Club. Experienced antique appraisers from Midtown Antiques of Stillwater will provide appraisals of items large and small. People with large items are encouraged to bring several photos. A $5 donation per item is requested.

  • Meg Heaton

    Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

    (715) 808-8604