Parenting support, child development services to be funded as part of grant

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

County Board members, on April 11, accepted a grant of $75,000 to study the possibility of establishing Family Resource Centers throughout Otter Tail County.

County Human Services Director Deb Sjostrom told county commissioners that a Family Resource Center (FRC) is a community-based or school-based hub of support for families in order to reduce isolation and stress.

“The goals of the FRC are to support families to be strong, healthy and successful,” Sjostrom said. “Services would include parenting support, child development activities and parent leadership development.”

Currently there are more than 3,000 Family Resource Centers in 37 states. 

“All across the nation are success stories about economic self-sufficiency, family resiliency, child nurturing and improvements in children’s educational success,” Sjostrom said.

The grant to Otter Tail County comes from the Sauer Family Foundation based in St. Paul. Their mission is to invest in strengthening the well-being of children so they can thrive in their families and in their communities.

“We in Otter Tail County are pleased to have been selected to receive grant funds from the Sauer Family Foundation,” Sjostrom said. “This grant supports exploration and assessment in order to determine what Family Resource Centers could achieve here in Otter Tail County. This is an exciting opportunity for families and communities throughout the county.”

Sjostrom added that community engagement and acceptance would be needed to establish Family Resource Centers throughout Otter Tail County.

County board members agreed that establishing Family Resource Centers here in west central Minnesota is well worth exploring. The five commissioners all expressed thanks for the grant provided by the Sauer Family Foundation.

Sjostrom made available a link to an article on the Family Resource Centers in Scott County, southwest of the Twin Cities. In March the county opened a new center in Shakopee, offering information on a wide variety of services and community programs. 

In 2021 Scott County became the first county in Minnesota to create a formal network of Family Resource Centers. The new FRC in Shakopee is the county’s fourth center.

Now, at least seven other Minnesota counties, including Otter Tail County, are creating similar FRC hubs or are interested in learning more, said Suzanne Arntson, Scott County deputy director for health and human services.

Each center in Scott County establishes a parent advisory council to help guide it. The council’s members are parents with a wide variety of experiences, including involvement with county social services or child protective services, Arntson said.