Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Celebrating Nina’s House

As we announced last fall, Families Together – the Museum’s renowned social service program – is growing! Tomorrow, after 20 years of bringing court-separated families together, the Museum opens Nina’s House, a homelike setting for family healing.

Created by Providence Children’s Museum in collaboration with the RI Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) in 1992, Families Together provides therapeutic visitation and permanency planning for children in foster care and their families.

When the state steps in to remove children from their parents’ care because of abuse or neglect, the usual goal is to reunite the family. While parents are helped to acquire the skills and resources they need to care for their children, the children live in foster care. It is critical that children and parents have regular high-quality contact while living separately. Families Together participants – children ages 1 to 11, their parents, and often extended family members – work with the program’s family therapists to rebuild relationships and strengthen parenting skills. During visits, the therapists assess the family’s strengths and challenges and help develop a permanency plan so their lives won’t be disrupted again.

For 20 years, DCYF-involved families in need of special guidance have rebuilt relationships while engaging in healthy play activities at Providence Children’s Museum – a nurturing and inspiring environment for fostering positive parent-child interaction for all families, especially those at risk. Since its inception Families Together has helped more than 2,000 families. In 2011, the program served 500 children and parents in 180 families.

With the addition of Nina's House, a Providence home purchased and renovated by The Nina Foundation, families will also strengthen relationships and communication while practicing basic skills in a warm, homelike setting conducive to family healing. Nina’s House will enable Families Together to expand clinical services to serve more families and better meet their specific needs; fill a major need for early and thorough assessment of DCYF-involved families; provide parenting skill development for more families with very young children; and better serve those with serious emotional and cognitive challenges.

We’re grateful to The Nina Foundation as well as to Ocean State Charities Trust, Admirals Bank, Creative Office Environments, and to 50 individuals who contributed cash gifts, toys and household items to the Nina's House shower. Thank you for supporting children in foster care and their families as they strengthen their relationships and work toward permanency.

Learn more about Families Together in this Museum newsletter and in an interview with program director Heidi Brinig

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