Mission Nonprofit Spotlight: Family Education & Support Services


Each month, Thurston Community Media (TCMedia)’s Mission Nonprofit connects with local organizations and agencies that are making positive impacts in our communities. This month, Mission Nonprofit host Robert Kam sat down with Shelly Willis, executive director, and Roger Jones, community engagement director, for Family Education & Support Services.

Family Education & Support Services is a local nonprofit offering classes and resources to parents and guardians in Thurston, Lewis and Mason counties. For over 20 years, they have worked to fulfil their mission of inspiring healthy child development by being a resource for any adult who is in contact with youth within their service counties. Each year they serve over 16,000.

Some of the common things they help with are first time parents, those going through divorce or children who are going into state custody. “Our goal is to get to families before there are issues and just help shore them up and we’re also there for families who have been impacted by the trauma of addiction, domestic violence, divorce, or child abuse and neglect,” explains Willis. “When families face those barriers, our goal is to help them find the resources, training and support necessary. So, we provide fatherhood classes and motherhood classes and co-parenting classes. Classes for parents who are going through the divorce on how to navigate that process with the least amount of trauma as possible. Training for parents who’ve navigated through domestic violence and how to make it easier on the kid, how to communicate with the child about the transitions that are happening and when kids are removed from the home because it was wasn’t safe for whatever reason, we have a program called Parents for Parents where parents who’ve been through that system and have reunified are now greeting parents entering the system and guiding them through to reunification.”

Family Education & Support Services helps give parents and guardians cope and bounce back from any situation, provides knowledge of child development to any parent or guardian seeking it, acts as a community with engagement and support systems so no one feels they must go through it alone and places heavy emphasis on social and emotional development of children.

A newer program, Kinship, is specifically for kids living with a relative that is not a parent, such as a grandparent, uncle, aunt, sibling, etc. that acts as their caregiver. Willis says 46,000 kids in Washington State live with a relative caregiver. “In fact, for every one child that is placed in foster care, there are 20 in Thurston County that go live with a family member,” she adds. The Kinship program provides support, activities and trainings for these caregivers.

While some of their services have fees, Willis is quick to point they never turn anyone away because of their inability to pay. Community support helps cover fees when necessary. You can help by donating to Family Education & Support Services, as well as volunteering.

For more information, watch the full video above and visit the Family Education & Support Services website.

You can watch Mission Nonprofit on channel 77 on Sundays at 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. You can also watch on TCMedia.org, Video On-Demand or our Roku channel. To learn more about what TCMedia does, visit the Thurston Community Media YouTube channel or the TC Media website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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