Literacy Begins at Teton County’s Family Place

Submitted by Valerie Maginnis
Teton County Library Director

Literacy begins at birth in Teton County, Wyoming.  Thanks to generous funding from the Teton County Library Foundation and the Friends of the Library, Teton County Library is the first Family Place Library in Wyoming. The Family Place Library provides an opportunity to expand the library’s traditional role of providing youth library services beyond storytime and summer reading programs by building on the knowledge that early learning, good health, parental involvement and supportive communities play a critical role in a young child’s growth and development. The free Family Place program at Teton County Library will provide all-encompassing, community-based education and family support for children, from birth to 3 years old, living in northwestern Wyoming.

Mary Flamino, Youth Services Manager, and Eva Dahlgren, Alta Branch Manager, attended the Family Place Training Institute at the Middle County Public Library in the spring of 2017. Both Mary and Eva returned to Teton County, eager to launch the program in Jackson and Alta, beginning with weekly Baby Time activities in the fall of 2017.

The Family Place Library network of libraries includes more than 500 sites nationwide, in 32 states. The Family Place Libraries concept originated at the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach, NY, in 1979. Family Place creates a partnership between libraries and communities to connect parents and caregivers to the resources and services they need during the first years of their child’s development. The hallmark of Family Place is a five-week series of workshops to bring together children, age 0-3, and their parents in an informal early childhood setting filled with toys, art, activities and books.The workshops encourage parents to play with their children while meeting other parents and caregivers. Professionals from health and social service agencies, as well as, child nutritionists, speech therapists and family therapists informally chat with participants and answer child-rearing questions.

Teton County Library will begin offering the Parent-Child Workshop series in the spring of 2018. Another key component of the Family Place program is reimagining the library’s youth area to offer more welcoming spaces for families of young children. Added features include: toy collections, real-play items, books, and a parenting collection.

For information about Teton County Library’s Family Place program, contact Valerie Maginnis, Library Director, at vmaginnis@tclib.org.

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