If you have a young child, you have a resource at your fingertips. Family centers are generally free and open to all parents and guardians and their young children.
Family centers are a great way to find quality play and learning activities for children ages birth to kindergarten while engaging with other adults who understand the joys and challenges of parenting.
Take part in parent-child events. Discover a setting designed for young children with toys, books, and other materials to stimulate learning in your child. Participate in fun activities that promote skills like sharing, taking turns, and listening. These are skills that help smooth a child's transition to preschool or kindergarten by laying the ground work for success in social relationships and in school settings.
If you're new to your community or new to parenting, family centers are more than just a gathering place for children. They are a welcoming and convenient place for adults to meet other parents, grandparents, and care givers, and find support and information about important matters including preschools, public school, pediatricians, or parent support groups. Getting involved by volunteering time and talent helps family centers and local organizations thrive.
You don't need to be a resident of a town to visit the local family center. Don't see a family center listed for your town? Don't worry! Each community's family center provides unique programming and is open to residents as well as families from other communities. Play-and-learn groups are free and generally open on a drop-in basis (no preregistration required).
While family centers are sponsored by the Coordinated Family and Community Engagement (CFCE) grant funded by the Department of Early Education and Care, they also rely on donations from families, businesses, and community groups. Donations are welcome, but centers are open to all regardless of ability to donate.
For more information and to locate the family centers and parent-child activities nearest you, see our list below or contact us. Most family centers follow the public school schedule of their home community for vacations and weather-related closings. All of the centers may sponsor activities and events at times other than those listed below. Please contact the individual centers for more specific information about hours and programming.
Family Centers and Playgroups
Amherst Family Center
1200 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA 01002
Hours: Monday - Wednesday, Friday 9:00am-11:30am, Thursday 9:00am-12:30pm
Clapp Memorial Library, 19 S. Main St., Belchertown, MA 01007
Hours: Wednesday 9:30am-11:00am (September - June)
Easthampton Family Center
43 Main St., Easthampton, MA 01027
easthamptonfamilycenter.blogspot.com or find us on Facebook
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Friday 10am-12pm
School Year Schedule: Resumes on September 9, 2013
Family Center Directions: At the Flywheel Arts Collective space in Old Town Hall on Main St., Easthampton - on the bus route.
Gateway Family Center
Gateway Community Center, 9 Russell Rd., Huntington, MA 01050
Find us on Facebook
Hours: Wednesday and Friday 10am-12pm (drop-in play groups with School Readiness activities); Tuesday 9-11:30am (School Readiness group -- by pre-registration only)
Schedule: Year round
Family Center Directions: Located across from the Fire Station at 9 Russell Rd. (Rte. 20) in Huntington.
First Congregational Church of Hatfield (enter through side door)
41 Main St., Hatfield, MA 01038
Hours: Wednesdays, 9:00-10:30am
Northampton Parents Center
297 Main St., Lower Level, Northampton, MA 01060
www.northamptonparentscenter.org or find us on Facebook
Hours: Monday through Thursday 9:30-11:30am
School Year Schedule: Mid-September through May; resumes on September 9, 2013
Family Center Directions: Located in the Edwards Church building, lower level, corner of State and Main Streets. Please use rear entrance.
Palmer/Monson Family Network
4 Springfield St. Three Rivers, MA 01080
PMFN will be closed June 30- July 7.
Summer hours: July 8- August 29: Drop-In Playgroup Tuesdays: 10:00-11:30; Playground Time at Eager Park - Fridays: 11:00
Family Center Directions: Located directly across from Three Rivers Common, also known as Hryniewicz Park.
South Hadley Family Center
7 Woodbridge St. South Hadley, MA 01075
www.shfamilycenter.org or find us on Facebook
Hours: Monday – Thursday 9:30-11:30am (drop-in play groups for all ages). Find other parents with infants on Tuesdays.
Family Center Directions: Located in the All Saints Episcopal Church building on Rte. 116, across from the Post Office in South Hadley Center.
Ware Family Center
49 Church St. Ware, MA 01082
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 9:30-11:30am
School Year Schedule: October through June; resumes on October 1, 2013
Family Center Directions: Located in the United Church of Ware building.Church St. is uphill from Rte. 9 in Ware Center.