This nonprofit organization got off the ground as a response to parents and stakeholders. For over 27 years, its growth has followed that same path: responding to what the community needs. Shaw’s supports this nonprofit through the GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program.
Tell us about Cape Cod Children’s Place.
Cape Cod Children’s Place is truly a grassroots organization. A group of parents got together and said we don’t have resources here on the Lower and Outer Cape for families, and we need more services for them. The town of North Eastham is quite remarkable; they constructed the building we are in specifically to provide Lower and Outer Cape families with early education and support services.
In 1995, our doors opened, and early education for zero to five-year-olds is how it started at that time. Eventually, we could access more state and local grants that allowed the organization to expand services for family support. Along with early education for working families, Cape Cod Children’s Place could then provide parent education services.
It is an essential job, being a parent and caregiver. Our mission is to provide high-quality early education, care and family support services so that every family can be successful and reach their full potential.
We believe the first five years of a child’s life are critical. Brain development in these early years is quite significant. The two greatest influences on healthy brain development are experience and relationships. We strive to bring the highest quality of early education and continue to advocate for the field. It is remarkable to see the development between zero and five years old.
Our mission is to provide high-quality early education, care and family support services so that every family can be successful and reach their full potential.
What services do you provide to the community?
People tend to make the statement that we are a “one-stop shop” when it comes to the services we offer. Our early education and care services are assisting between 35 and 40 families at this current time. Programs in family support services take over a whole breadth of the Cape and Islands and are all completely free. We serve close to 2,000 families in a year.
One of our programs is First Steps Together, which works with families on the journey to dealing with substance use disorder. We provide one-on-one recovery coaches to work with these families to help them rebuild.
Then we have a state initiative through the Children’s Trust for a grant called SAFE Child Communities Grant. SAFE stands for Stop Abuse for Every Child. Through this initiative, we provide intensive parent education and evidence-based information through a lot of one-on-one consulting and referrals.
And in addition to that, we do our best to provide concrete services for the community. We are the place to come for things like diapers. In the past couple of years, the financial impact on young families has been tremendous, and the cost of living on the Cape and housing is beyond anything reasonable. We can provide families with food, grocery gift cards, clothing and other needed resources
Additional support we provide consists of parent-child enrichment groups, early literacy groups and a place for parents and children to build a community of growth.
What sets your organization apart from other nonprofits in your community?
Our model and span of programming is considered something that’s never been seen before, and I think that really sets us apart.
Cape Cod Children’s Place has some unique aspects. We are the leading agency for the Father and Family Network and the Maternal Depression Task Force for the Cape. One promotes how important fathers are in their children’s lives. The other creates a system of understanding and professional care around maternal mental health. These programs are pretty powerful to have here on the Cape.
We also work with the Department of Children and Families, providing parent education to many vulnerable families within the court system and correctional facilities. Our intersection within the community is vast; we are the place to call for child and family support.
Tell us a story that illustrates your organization’s good work.
I had a young dad with family challenges who joined our fathering work. His son was just a few weeks old, and a substance use disorder impacted them. The dad worked hard to provide for his little child and give him the family he deserved. This father joined our program not having much trust for anybody, but because we continued to show up for him and speak our truth, he reached out in times of need. The child ended up in and out of systems because of family issues, and sadly, the mother was eventually lost due to substance use.
The young dad stuck with us through all of this and was able to get his life on track, and his little boy is thriving! This man’s journey with us started about eight years ago. He’s still someone that will check in occasionally and say, “Just wanted to see how you were doing. We are doing great.” And that’s really what this work is about: strengthening, recognizing the potential that every family has and being able to help them tap into it to be all they can.
What is your most outstanding achievement or contribution to the community?
What we’ve done with our Maternal Depression Task Force, I think, has been quite an achievement. This program has been in place since 2006, and the state of Massachusetts recognized us for bringing forward this initiative.
There has now been legislation stating that screening tools are provided when a woman has a baby to see if the parent is at risk and in need of support. Before, it was primarily up to the patient to recognize if they needed care. This model has made a tremendous impact.
What do you want people to know about Cape Cod Children’s Place?
Cape Cod Children’s Place is an organization that continues to be reflective of our community. Any growth that we have made isn’t because we say what we need; it has always been a consideration of what the community has told us they need.
I hope that anyone who walks through the doors of Cape Cod Children’s Place, whether a child or an adult, feels immediately valued, respected and welcomed. We want to continue to make the energy that we create a place where everyone belongs.
Any growth that we have made isn’t because we say what we need; it has always been a consideration of what the community has told us they need.
How are you using the funds you’ve received from the Shaw’s GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program?
Currently, much of our fundraising is spent filling those more significant gaps in the community. For many families paying for early education and care is more than their mortgage. Several families in our community don’t qualify for the state voucher systems, making childcare very difficult to afford. With funds raised in Shaw’s GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program, we can help create scholarships to alleviate some of these families’ financial burdens.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Thank you so much for allowing me to tell you who we are!