NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Department of Children and Families Commissioner Angelo McClain discussed the state's goals to help strengthen family and community with the addition of family resource centers like the one at Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.
State officials from the Department of Children and Families attended Thursday's open house for the Family Place at Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.
"About four years ago, we started having budget cuttings and as we were doing the budget cutting, when families who came to us asked us for voluntary services we knew we were going to have to cut back on the number of families who got voluntary services," McClain said on Thursday at the coalition's open house. "And we didn't want those families to go with nothing, so I said 'What if we could create a family resource center, a place where families can come in and get access to the services?'"
McClain said the department studied the similar models from other states.
"We started the first four about three years ago and the response was incredibly overwhelming."
McClain said any family can go to the center and receive assistance, even if it is just answers on access to information about child care and welfare services.
"This is really part of our idea that if we can help, speak to the community it can help make families stronger," McLain said.
DCF Commissioner Angelo McClain traveled to the Berkshires to discuss the state's plans to expand its Family Center services.
Locally, the coalition opened The Family Place adjacent to its offices on the second floor of 61 Main St. about a year ago. In the future, McClain said he wants 40 community centers across the commonwealth. Currently there are around a dozen.
"We're doing it in stages, we're building it with our five programs that have similar orientation and condition that may have some activities that are comparable," DCF Director of Community Development Brian Cummings said. "It's part of a larger vision of integrating services."
Al Bashevkin, director of the coalition, stressed the importance of mutual relationships between the coalition and other service programs in the area and hopes to see them expand.
"We would like to see many more mutual support groups for families and parents to be able to be housed here," Bashevkin said. "We're trying to create that environment where making it possible for parents to talk about the hard job of raising kids ...
"We just hope we can stay at the level of activity that we're doing now and just keep serving families here, and step back and look at what families really need, and us, as an organization, need to advocate for that."