Opinion

Pediatricians support unique family care model | Guest Column: Drs. Thomas Monk & Molly Linhardt | Nov. 20

As pediatricians, we’re excited to be on the founding board of directors of Peacock Family Center, a new nonprofit that will soon open in our community in Winslow in the old Packard Building at 305 Madison Ave.

Peacock Family Center will increase access to much -needed social and emotional services for families in north Kitsap County. It will provide a hub for community resources, including: part-time and drop-in child care for children six weeks to six years old; enrichment programming (including art, music, yoga and languages); indoor and outdoor public play spaces; and family support.

Peacock Family Center will also accept a portion of families receiving Washington State Department of Early Learning child care subsidies and offer scholarships to low-income families.

For families this translates into a little extra support. It may be something small like meeting other parents to combat the loneliness of raising young children, child care that allows a parent a much needed break, and help for more pressing concerns such as postpartum depression, breast feeding, or resources and support for a child with special needs.

We also recognize that in the current economy there is increased need for flexible child care for families.

Even more importantly, Peacock Family Center represents preventative care for all families in our community. Current research on brain science as well as public health policy reflected in the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP 2009 report) recommends the co-location of child care and family support services.

Supportive care for parents impacts the healthy social and emotional development of children: when we provide support for a parent, we are also providing care for the child.

In addition, Peacock Family Center will adopt an attachment-based model of child care where an infant is assigned a primary caregiver to follow the child through the infant and toddler classrooms. Similarly, Peacock Family Center will offer familiar staff and routines in its drop-in care component.

Peacock Family Center represents the collective vision of parents and grandparents, birth professionals, early childhood educators, psychotherapists, pediatricians and financial consultants.

These representative members of the board of directors and staff have been engaged in conversation over the past several years to identify a model of comprehensive family care.

The two driving forces behind Peacock Family Center, Sarah Townsend, psychotherapist, and Kelly Sparks, former co-owner of Peacock Playtime, were able to quickly collect a large group of volunteer working board members, consultants, advisors and fundraisers to form Peacock Family Center.

The level of interest and energy surrounding the project seems to reflect the lack of support for families in our society, and demonstrates that people feel a void and want to fill it in a meaningful way.

The board’s commitment to the physical and emotional safety of children is further reflected in the build-out of this new facility. In addition to pursuing LEED certification, Peacock Family Center will serve as a pilot program for eco-healthy child care, a national certifying organization for nontoxic, healthy and safe child care facilities.

Securing this endorsement requires taking 25 steps to reduce children’s exposure to toxins and other environmental health hazards.

Peacock Family Center will adopt these best-practice standards and will serve as one of the first programs, both nationally and within Washington State, as an “eco-healthy” child care center.

The center is committed to providing an environmentally sound and sustainable environment for families and modeling a reasonable, attainable standard for in-home practices as well.

To that end, Peacock Family Center is currently receiving pro bono professional services from numerous individuals, including:  a graphic designer, two attorneys, a landscape designer, a LEED AP architect, a green building consultant, a LEED AP lighting designer, Arup Engineering, and an operations manager.

Peacock Family Center welcomes the participation of community members in offering programming and in the further identification of community needs.

We are currently seeking leadership gifts to support a capital campaign, donations of wooden toys, and future hands-on participation in building the outdoor play space and in erecting and planting beds for organic vegetables.

There are also numerous opportunities for grandparents in the classrooms and to serve as mentors and support for young families.

You can contact Peacock Family Center at 780-1505 or on our Web site Peacockfamilycenter.org.

Pediatrician Drs. Molly Linhardt and Thomas Monk work for Virginia Mason Winslow and The Doctors Clinic, respectively.

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