- Executive Office of Health and Human Services
- Massachusetts Department of Children & Families
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Recognizes Child Abuse Prevention Month
Kayla Rosario-Muñoz, Media Relations Manager, Executive Office of Health and Human Services
PLYMOUTH — In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders and Department of Children and Families (DCF) Commissioner Linda S. Spears visited the Plymouth Family Resource Center (FRC) yesterday, a program of Bay State Community Services under contract with the Commonwealth. Plymouth is one of 27 FRCs across the Commonwealth offering services and supports to help families and children thrive together in their communities.
FRCs assist with urgent needs such as housing or employment and provide on-site programing including parent workshops, children’s playgroups, and parent support groups. The Plymouth FRC holds a monthly Free Family Market where families have access to diapers, wipes, baby formula, clothing, pet food, and menstrual products at no cost. The Family Market serves an average of 60 families per month.
“It is essential that families have access to local community resources to support their children,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “Family Resource Centers localize access to professional and peer support, as well as provide basic necessities for families like those available at the monthly Family Market.”
FRCs are strategically located across the Commonwealth. To assure FRCs are accessible, each center’s programming reflects the cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic background of their community. Last summer, the Boston FRC offered a 5-week group for teenagers interested in social justice issues and advocacy. Its success has led to plans for an afterschool program based on the FRC’s model. In Taunton, the FRC helped form a support group where survivors of domestic and sexual violence learn holistic healing approaches to processing trauma. A number of FRCs, including Plymouth, offer Nurturing Fathers, a 13-week class and support group for men to strengthen their parenting skills.
In addition to Nurturing Fathers, Plymouth FRC also offers families access to School Liaisons who facilitate communication between families and school districts when children are facing difficulties in school. On-site behavioral health assessments for children by licensed clinicians and substance abuse recovery support groups for moms are also available.
“FRCs increase opportunities for families to work with community providers to address family concerns while following through with supportive, informed services available in local communities,” said Department of Children and Families (DCF) Commissioner Linda S. Spears. “FRC programs are designed for child abuse prevention and to address the safety issues that most often bring families to DCF’s attention. Another area where the FRCs do so well is encouraging parents to engage in their communities and build a support system for when they need help managing family stressors.”
"We were delighted to host Secretary Sudders and Commissioner Spears at the Plymouth Family Resource Center and remain grateful for their commitment and support for all the work we do with families at Bay State, said Bay State Community Services Chief Executive Officer Daurice Cox. “We are honored to operate both the Quincy and Plymouth Family Resource Centers, which do incredible work supporting families and connecting them with community resources."
FRCs have also become key sources of support in crises. When the destruction of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico drove more than 1,500 families to find safety with friends and relatives in Holyoke, the FRC immediately mobilized to meet urgent needs, providing food and winter clothes as well as assistance with finding permanent housing and enrolling children in school. During the COVID-19 pandemic, usage of the FRC services increased significantly. During lockdown, FRCs communicated with families virtually and transitioned classes and support groups to Zoom, WebEx, and other web-based platforms. FRCs have since resumed in-person operations.
In 2015, the Department of Children and Families and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services launched the FRC network in partnership with UMass Chan Medical School. Under the Baker-Polito Administration, an additional 9 FRCs have opened and today, there are FRCs in all 14 counties in Massachusetts. Between 2015 and 2021, the FRCs served 55,287 families statewide. Use of the FRCs increased from 4,764 families in 2015 to 13,466 families in 2021.