Family Resource Network offers assistance for parents in need

Melissa Fose

Melissa Fose

There are numerous subjects to cover when it comes to parenting, and the Family Resource Network can help you do it. The outreach office offers many services to parents, childcare providers and professionals serving young children.

“I think it’s important just because they help out families so much ? just little stuff that you never realized,” said Tyler Hill, a sophomore construction management major who works at the FRN office.

FRN services include: Project 8 program, Lending Library, childcare referrals, parenting classes, Reach Out and Read program, Child and Adult Care Food program and many more.

Project 8

Project 8: The Governor’s Child Seat Program is a state program that offers car seat help and inspections at no cost. Low-income families who qualify can also receive a free car seat, as well as a 30-minute demonstration and practice session.

Each year, FRN inspects about 600 car seats according to Training Specialist April Flemming. She requests that people interested in a car seat inspection should set up an appointment.

Lending Library

FRN’s Lending Library has over 4,000 items that parents and childcare providers can borrow. Flemming said the toys available range from infant to school age items. Resources for adults include books with activity planning, recipes and more. FRN’s Web site includes a picture library of all 4,000 items.

Parents and grandparents pay an annual $10 or volunteer two hours each year for access to the library. Childcare provider fees are different-$20 per year or four hours of volunteer work.

The Lending Library is located at the Old Sanctuary building at 910 4th St. in Suite E. It is open Tuesday through Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Childcare referrals

Parents can ask for a list of childcare providers who meet specific criteria and have an opening; Flemming said that FRN has 78 registered childcare providers in the Brookings area.

“Selecting a child care provider is one of the most important decisions parents make for their young child,” said Gail Bultman, the coordinator for FRN. “Knowing what to look for when selecting a provider can be a daunting task.”

Parents can also request general information on childcare-including what to look for in a provider and how to evaluate a visit.

“I do notice a lot of SDSU students looking for childcare providers in the area,” Hill said.

Parenting classes

Six-week parenting programs are offered at no cost. The class focus is newborn to three-year-old children. Parents learn about early brain development and parenting techniques.

Proper care in the early years is important. “[It] promotes healthy brain development, it also fosters positive relationships, promotes positive physical development and emotional growth,” Flemming said.

Each class lasts two hours and programs are offered in Brookings and Watertown.

Reach Out and Read

Children who get well-baby checkups can get a free book from their physician if they go to the Brookings Clinic or Brookings County Community Health (located in the Department of Social Services building).

Children who are 6 months to 5 years old are eligible for the Reach Out and Read program, Flemming said. The physician reads the book aloud during the checkup, she said, and gives the children a ‘prescription to read.’

Childcare provider training

Numerous programs are available for childcare providers, including training and certificate programs.

“A critical time of a child’s development occurs within the first three years of life so the support [FRN] can offer to caregivers during this formative period is essential,” said FRN Coordinator Gail Bultman.

Visit the Web site ( for more information on FRN programs, or call the office at 605-688-5730.

FRN is supported by the United Way, South Dakota Department of Social Services and South Dakota Department of Education.