Pitkin County and Aspen School District launch new family resource center | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County and Aspen School District launch new family resource center

Pitkin County, Aspen School District and a number of local organizations and community members have teamed up to create a new family support center that will open today.

Aspen Family Connections is designed to serve as a "one-stop" family resource center, Director Katherine Sand said, noting that they are still working to develop the program and figure out which types of services it should offer.

"It's about family life in its broadest sense, and anything that affects your family," she said. "Helping (families) make connections is exactly what it is."

So far, a few ideas for the center Sand shared include providing families with information on academic or emotional support organizations, financial assistance, extracurricular activities or summer camps.

The family resource center also may look to offering some form of parenting advice or education in the near future, she said.

"I think about this in my own experience of parenting — I had no idea what I was doing, and every stage is different," said Sand, who relocated to Aspen from London 15 years ago and is a mother to two eighth-grade boys at Aspen Middle School.

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"There'd be many times I wasn't quite sure where to turn," said Sand, noting that she does not have family in the area.

"Sometimes friends, but it would've been quite nice to go (some place like this)."

The idea for the family resource center arose in the spring of 2015, said Nan Sundeen, director of Pitkin County Health and Human Services, on Friday.

Initially, the Colorado Department of Human Services granted Pitkin County funds to assess the needs of children and families within the county, Sundeen said.

This study inspired bigger picture discussions as to what other family needs should be met locally.

Ultimately, it was these conversations that prompted the conception of Aspen Family Connections, she said.

"I think it's a game changer in a very positive way," Sundeen said. "For us to support and advocate for and serve families in children in ways we can't even imagine now. It's so exciting."

Aspen School District Assistant Superintendent Tom Heald, who could not be reached for comment Friday, said via a statement that "it's hard to ask for help."

"Creating a culture where the help finds you is what the Aspen School District is striving for; a regional beacon of light," he said.

Right now, Sand said she is working to spread the word and inform "anyone who's concerned with families in our community" about the new center.

The Aspen Family Connections office is located on the ground level of Aspen Middle School.

For more information on the new family resource center, contact Sand at ksand@aspenk12.net.

erobbie@aspentimes.com

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