An evolution in parent and child services
June 12, 2009 · 9:44 AM
Peacock goes nonprofit, PCC finds a home, Bainbridge gets more options.
Local families will soon see a wider range of parent and child resources as two island organizations, KidsUp! and Peacock Playtime, expand their offerings.
KidsUp has recently acquired space for its resurrection of the Parent Child Center, and Peacock will become the nonprofit Peacock Family Services.
“I think people are sitting at home without a lot of choices,” KidsUp President Carrissa Barbee said. “So it’s really good to have those choices out there, even if it’s just going out to hang out with other parents.”
KidsUp first came together to construct and maintain the popular Battle Point playground. Last year, with a new board, the group decided to work toward the re-formation of the Parent Child Center, an organization originally sponsored by Helpline House that offered resources to parents of young children such as a play space, social opportunities, a resource library, car seat checks, a lending closet, parent education and a social worker on site.
When lack of funding led to a loss of its space at Woodward Middle School, the PCC essentially dissolved, too. Although for a time it held informal weekly coffee get-togethers at Kids Discovery Museum, the organization craved an all-encompassing place of its own.
After raising funds through efforts like a family fair last winter, KidsUp has now leased 3,600 square feet on the upper floor of the Bainbridge Pavilion. They’ll unveil the space at a celebration and fundraiser on July 10.
Barbee said the vision for PCC’s home is a large play space with various themed areas such as “Outside In,” with a beach, a park, a toddler climbing area and a garden with water. Wireless Internet access will be available so a parent could get work done on a laptop while the kids frolic.
“We’re designing it so that pretty much from anywhere you are, you’ll be able to see your kids playing,” Barbee said.
There will also be a large community room for yoga and music classes, parent education, and party rental, as well as a designated eating area. Just as at the old PCC, an on-site parent coach will be available to offer support and answer questions.
There will be a nominal entrance fee, and scholarships will be available for those who cannot afford to pay.
“Our center is…for everyone in North and central Kitsap County. It doesn’t matter if you can afford to pay or not; everybody’s welcome,” Barbee said.
The idea of a parent and child “hub” is in large part what’s driving Peacock Family Services, as well.
Last October, Kelly Sparks and Sheila Kent opened Peacock Playtime as a friendly, safe play center. As caregivers stopped in over the ensuing weeks, the two “did a lot of listening” to what customers wanted from Peacock.
“It became apparent that there was a need for a lot more,” Sparks said.
Community members also told the owners what they wanted to give to Peacock. For instance, donations started to appear on Peacock’s doorstep in Rolling Bay.
“We would tell people, we can’t accept this,” Sparks said. “We are not a nonprofit. And people would say, ‘We don’t care. I would like to give you this box of wipes because my granddaughter comes here all the time, and we love it.”
Meanwhile, Sparks connected with island therapist Sarah Townsend. She, with therapist Francie Powell, had begun holding regular postpartum support groups at Grace Episcopal Church and were interested in going where the caregivers were.
Peacock, Powell and Townsend agreed that they’d like to connect their service offerings; the two therapists did not, however, want to charge for their services – another sign pointing Peacock in the nonprofit direction.
Sparks and Kent began developing a vision for the organization, keeping in touch with Townsend as a resource. They put together a 13-person board and an advisory committee and solidified the formation of the 501c3.
Sparks and Kent will “close” the private entity Peacock Playtime this month and make a fast transition into Peacock Family Services at the same location, with Sparks serving as interim executive director and Kent on the board and at the center as “grandma in residence.” Townsend will serve as interim program director.
Outwardly, things won’t look much different to Peacock visitors at first. They’ll still have the play space will but add services such as lactation support; parent and possibly grandparent groups; and a series of summer camps. Townsend and Powell will continue to provide on site perinatal care for an hour once per week. Sparks said Peacock has a strong interest in entering the day-care arena in the not-to-distant future.
She anticipates a natural turning point with the start of school in September but added that they’ll only add services as they can provide a level of care that meets their standards.
Overlap does exist in some of the planned service offerings from PCC and Peacock, for instance, their play spaces, their libraries, and the presence of a coach or counselor regularly on site.
But Barbee and Sparks seem to agree that it’s not an either-or situation; the wider the range of resources available, the better off area families will be.
“More is more,” Townsend and Sparks said.