About Families First
Mission and History
Families First Parenting Programs builds positive relationships between parents and their children by educating both families and the professionals who serve them through inspiring, hands-on workshops. Our skilled workshop leaders stand beside parents and caregivers to lead them through the crucible of child rearing by transforming their experiences, doubts, and fears into the knowledge and confidence they need to build positive discipline, communication, and self-esteem in families. Our training for professionals enhances their ability to better support and engage families. We help communities thrive by strengthening families first.
History of Parenting Education and Families First
Founding and Growth of Families First Parenting Programs
In 1988, Wheelock College and Boston Children's Museum founded Families First Parenting Programs to help parents address their child rearing information needs through parenting education. This effort was in response to tumultuous societal changes, which included mothers moving into the workforce in unprecedented numbers, climbing divorce and remarriage rates, changes in family structure, and the number of parents rearing children in poverty.
During the fall of 1988, we offered our first programs at the Children's Museum. These programs were based on the work of the Center for Parenting Studies at Wheelock College and were funded in part by the Charles Engelhard Foundation. Originally intended to meet the needs of visitors to the Museum, Families First’s programs soon expanded into the neighborhoods and suburbs of Boston as requests for our groundbreaking programs poured in.
By the end of 1992, Families First had outgrown its home at the Children's Museum and moved to Cambridge, where we began operating solely as an affiliate of Wheelock College. During the 1990’s, we provided technical assistance and core curriculum content to replicate our program in Houston, Texas, and Missoula, Montana. The Montana program still exists today.
On July 1, 1998, Families First formally assumed the fiscal and administrative operations Wheelock had been providing and became an independent Massachusetts non-profit corporation. A generous grant from The Boston Foundation assisted us in taking that major step. Over the years, Families First has sought to maintain close relationships with our founding institutions while functioning as an independent and self-sustaining agency.
Innovation at Families First
The end of the 20th century saw the largest wave of immigrants to the United States in 100 years. In response, Families First has worked continuously to develop programs for increasing numbers of different linguistic and cultural communities. We have also continued to meet, through our curricula and programming, the ongoing and newly emerging needs of all parents. Our newest curricula help parents deal with the challenges of technology, materialism, and violence, while we maintain our core mission of teaching parents how they can promote healthy relationships with their children and strengthen their families. In addition to our traditional programming, we are prospecting for and establishing collaborative relationships with community organizations, municipalities, school systems, and other agencies on an unprecedented level.