City's family center moves forward

Publication Date: Wednesday Apr 8, 1998

SOCIAL SERVICES: City's family center moves forward

Family Resource Center begins hiring after four years of planning

After almost four years of planning, Palo Alto is beginning work on a center to coordinate the family service organization in the city.

The Family Resource Center, which was first proposed by then-Mayor Liz Kniss in 1994, was given funding for two staff members by the City Council at its March 23 meeting.

The Family Resource Center will have one full-time coordinator and a half-time office specialist. The city hopes to fill the positions by May.

"When we surveyed the community, the information we got back showed how many resources we have in Palo Alto, but the services are not very well coordinated," said Ilene Hertz, manager of child-care and family services for the city.

Council member Liz Kniss announced the idea for the Family Resource Center in her 1994 State of the City address.

"The reason I came up with the idea was (that) several women came to me to say how different it is raising children in the '90s than when I raised my kids," Kniss said.

She noted that nowadays, in most families in Palo Alto, both parents work. But in the '60s and '70s there was often only one parent working full time.

Kniss said she originally thought the FRC could be running within a year of her proposal. "Like everything in Palo Alto, it had a lot of process," Kniss said. "We got a committee of everyone we could find that served kids' interests to be a part of the committee."

The purpose of the FRC is not to duplicate services provided by such organizations as Palo Alto Community Child Care and Family Service Mid-Peninsula.

"Eventually we expect to have a location at the Mitchell Park Community Center, but there will not be one single location for our services," Hertz said.

Hertz said informational material will be set up at places where many Palo Altans frequent, such as libraries and community centers. Pamphlets will be available at these sites, and the staff will be trained to guide people to the appropriate information.

Hertz said the organizational phase will take about 18 months. During this time an advisory committee, made up of representatives from family service providers, will develop the program; a Web site will be designed to get information to the public; and the family service providers will be connected in a more formal network.

Services, including the FRC headquarters and the Web page, will not be available until the organization phase is complete, Hertz said.

--Charlie Breitrose 

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