Columbia County Family Centers

Voice: 570-387-9086
Fax: 570-387-6502

11 West Main Street
Main Street County Annex
Bloomsburg, PA 17815



Front row (l to r): Jenn Banks, Peggy Sterner, Ashley Mensch. Middle row: Carrie Romig, Deborah Wilson, Allison Williams. Back row: Lori Auten, Michelle Welsh and Chris Yackiel

Columbia County Family Center, located in central Pennsylvania, received the coveted Parents As Teachers LOSOS Prize for Excellence in Innovation Award on October 4th at the Annual Parents As Teachers Conference in Atlanta Georgia. Karen Shanoski and Alison Fulton from the Pennsylvania Parents As Teachers Affiliate Office were on hand for the presentation that was made to Allison Williams, Columbia County Family Center Director.

The LOSOS Prize is named after its benefactor, Carolyn W. Losos, a lifetime early childhood proponent. Williams stated that this prize is a wonderful way for Columbia County Family Centers to highlight the new and innovative practices of Parents As Teachers Affiliates. The award was created in 2006 to demonstrate creativity and originality in pursuit of the Parents As Teachers vision that all children will learn, grow and develop to realize their full potential. Winners are selected annually from around the globe.

Columbia County Family Centers, with five sites serving each of the county’s six school districts, was honored with the award based on its innovation in filling the gaps in the system with quality programming designed to keep families intact, children safe and parents equipped with the tools to parent effectively.  The LOSOS Prize comes with a financial stipend that will support programming to those families most at-risk for abuse and neglect.

Columbia County Family Centers has been in existence since 1992 when Pennsylvania launched ten pilot Parents As Teachers programs. A mostly rural county with poverty issues as well as a rampant drug problem, the Family Center has created programs around its core Parents As Teachers home visitation program. The programs that fill those gaps and work to keep children healthy and safe are not possible without funding from the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, Berwick United Way, Children and Youth Services and other local entities.

To meet the county needs, the Family Center, working from its core Parents As Teachers Curriculum, established effective and ongoing Parenting Classes for those parents whose children have been removed from the home. Pre and post tests are given at ten session intervals to measure parenting knowledge. Juvenile Probation workshops for adolescents who have made poor social choices are offered to parents and youth together over seven sessions as well as to youth alone in the schools.  Family Group Decision-Making is both coordinated and facilitated by Family Center staff for CYS and Juvenile Probation. Budgeting sessions and nutrition for less programming is provided regularly. Baby Basics for Dads classes are held for first time fathers and Child Focused Parenting Sessions are held for parents dealing with custody issues or divorce. The Family Center has truly become a viable prevention tool for Columbia County. A staff of nine works in teams to offer each of the programs. That staff includes: Michelle Welsh, Lori Auten, Deb Wilson, Peggy Sterner, Jenn Banks, Ashley Mensch, Carrie Romig, Chris Yackiel and Allison Williams. Together they represent 94 years of Family Center service.

Parents As Teachers is the trusted resource for professionals and organizations in early childhood development and education. Headquartered in St. Louis, our internationally recognized network of affiliates supports hundreds of thousands of families in all 50 states as well as seven other countries. Through a proven parent education model featuring in-home visits with parents and their children, Parents As Teachers affiliates equip parents with knowledge and resources to prepare their children for a stronger start in life and greater success in school. Parents As Teachers was one of the original seven home visiting models approved by the federal government through the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. For more information call Allison Williams at 570-387-9086, option 1.

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