Family Strengths Network is asking the Los Alamos County Council to continue supporting it after a 30-year partnership. Courtesy photo
Family Strengths Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, established in Los Alamos in 1989. Through the years, the organization has grown and provided many activities, supports, and educational opportunities to families with young children.
FSN receives funding from many resources, including Los Alamos School District, Con Alma, United Way, and the Delle Foundation. In addition, they receive about 50% of the yearly budget through Los Alamos County.
On January 2nd, Los Alamos County posted a request for proposals (RFP) for a Family Resource, Support and Parent Education Program contract. The deadline for this RFP was January 22nd, and is the contract that FSN has applied for and received for over 20 years with Los Alamos County. The RFP requests that all applicants will provide “facilities, equipment, and qualified personnel necessary to operate a comprehensive Family Resources, Support, and Parent Education Programs,” providing family resources and support and providing parent and caregiver education.
“FSN provides supports to parents in many different ways,” states Carie Fanning, Executive Director of FSN for the last 5 years. “Some parents may not want to engage in formal parenting classes or support groups, so we create an inviting opportunity for community connection and collaboration.”
This could include attending a clothing swap that is held twice a year, a monthly toddler tune program, or even visiting the Toy Library. FSN’s expansive Toy Library is a valued resource for a multitude of reasons. Oftentimes children quickly grow out of their developmentally appropriate toys. In addition, parents might not have access to toys specifically geared towards children with special needs, or grandparents may need to borrow toys for a short time.
“It’s a community for transplants who have no one else,” an FSN mom, Brittany Dowd stated, “sure they have a lot of educational programs and a toy library, but they are, first and foremost, a community.”
In addition, FSN has allowed many organizations to hold classes and provide services in their welcoming space. JJAB, Las Cumbres, First Born, and Steam Lab are just a few of the organizations that have been able to utilize the space that FSN shares with Los Alamos to help people find belonging and supports. It is this collaboration that has helped FSN be able to respond to community needs. For example, when Kindergarten roundup was cancelled because of COVID-19, FSN was able to quickly partner with the Los Alamos Public Schools to provide a kindergarten readiness program. Parents who were not able to attend the live, Zoom event, can go back and watch the recorded session.
The current funding that FSN receives from Los Alamos County will end on June 30, 2020. Los Alamos County did not inform FSN about the denial of RFP funding until the agenda for the June 9th County Council meeting was published Friday morning.
Family Strengths Network calls on the community to encourage Los Alamos County to support well rounded family services, especially those for families with young children. Thriving communities are built on the foundation of strong families.