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Lexington’s Family Care Center celebrates 30th anniversary, still blazing innovative trail of work


A facility that was considered ground-breaking when it opened in 1989 is still blazing an innovative trail today as it celebrates its 30th anniversary of work with parents and young children.

“The Family Care Center helps families with young children achieve greater stability and resilience. One of its priorities is working with young parents who may not be quite ready to be parents,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “Its approach is comprehensive, teaching everything from how to soothe a crying infant to how to achieve a high school diploma to how to become independent.”

Center Director Joanna Rodes said the Family Care Center is a “very special place offering a number of services coordinated under one roof.”

The center was the vision of Mayor Scotty Baesler. He encouraged Barbara Curry, his Commissioner of Social Services, and Jean Sabharwal, a Children’s Services Program Director, to dream BIG. “Mayor Baesler wanted a place where young parents would receive support to become self-sufficient, and their children would get a good start,” Sabharwal said.

Community partners such as Fayette County Public Schools, the University of Kentucky and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services joined in the planning process and committed staff and resources to make the Center work.

It was a national model for comprehensive services to parents and young children, and attracted national and international attention. Visitors have included Colin Powell, Princess Anne and Hillary Clinton.

The Center currently operates five programs:

• HANDS, a home visitation service for new and expectant parents. HANDS stands for Health Access Nurturing Development Services and enrolls families who are pregnant or have a newborn under 3 months old. HANDS assists families in overcoming challenges involved with parenting and helps young children reach their full potential. Families may receive HANDS services until the child turns 2.

• The Parent Education program focuses on young parents who are working to complete their high school diplomas. In addition to academic instruction, the program offers parenting and life skills classes, case management, and college and career readiness services. Since its founding, the Family Care Center has helped about 600 young mothers get their high school diplomas.

• The Early Child Care program serves children age 6 weeks to 4 years. The program is rated 5 STARS by Kentucky’s All STARS quality rating system. Services are provided in partnership with the Fayette County Public Schools Preschool Program, Community Action Council Head Start, and the Child Care Assistance Program.

• The Family Service Coordination/Volunteer Coordination program helps families that want to become independent and self-sufficient. Intensive case management is provided to help families achieve goals within a 6-month period. The program also coordinates the work of the Center’s many volunteers and donations of items for families in need.

• Pediatric Health Care, a University of Kentucky primary care clinic, services pediatric patients from birth through adolescence. In addition to primary health care, mental health is offered through an on-site clinical social worker.

The Family Care Center is still part of the City’s Social Services Department, now under the direction of Commissioner Chris Ford. “After 30 years, the Family Care Center continues to symbolize a community’s vision for empowerment and collaboration,” Ford said. “We’re committed to serving a new generation of families in the years to come.”

From Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government


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