EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- Evolving out of budget cuts, a place dedicated to helping financially challenged families in the Eugene-Springfield area, St. Vincent de Paul’s First Place Family Development Center is offering new help for parents and their kids, all thanks to volunteers.
The First Place Family Center is a major resource for homeless and economically struggling families, giving them a place to cook, entertain their kids, do laundry, shower and more.
For years, the Family Center also ran a daycare / pre-school, but last June the program closed because of budget issues in the difficult economy. The program lost several key funding sources from the Lane County Commissions on Children and Families, also from United Way.
Losing the pre-school was a big deal, as employees and volunteers there used to screen kids for developmental and social problems that children show symptoms of early in their lives. Such screening hasn’t happened since the pre-school shut down. However, that is changing now.
Volunteers from the University of Oregon’s Early Childhood Cares program and other programs have come together to create a “Parent / Child Playgroup” to continue some of the work that was accomplished with the daycare before.
The hope is that the group will be able to screen children for any social and educational developmental problems, and help families get treatment early.
“I mean if a child doesn't develop properly in the early stages, then they are behind the curve the rest of their educational life. And so this is going to make a difference for these kids for the rest of their lives and for their families,” says Diana West, Assistant Director of the First Place Family Center.
The new playgroup meets every Friday at the First Place Family Center from to So far, the group has been running for about three weeks, starting in early March 2012.
Families who receive services and support from St. Vincent de Paul can attend the playgroup free of charge. So far, six to eight families have taken part.
The hope is to expand the playgroup to more hours and more days per week; however, volunteer support is needed.
For more information on volunteering for the group, contact Kimberly Murphy with the University of Oregon through St. Vincent de Paul via this link: http://www.svdp.us/contact-us-form/.