District’s resource center advocates against child abuse 

Early Education Advocates Serena Witten and Shawna Mercier spoke about the Family Resource Center

Photos and Story by Catherine Stachowiak

Early Education Advocates Serena Witten and Shawna Mercier spoke about the Family Resource Center of the Kernville Union School District, during a luncheon Thursday April 25, at the Kern Valley Exchange Club, in Paradise Cove Lodge.

Witten said, “As you know it’s Child Abuse Awareness Month, so we just wanted to come and share a little bit about what our program does and what our office can provide.”

The Family Resource Center, in Lake Isabella, is available as part of prevention within the community, supporting parents who are essentially their child’s first teacher, building parents up. Some parents need more resources and skills. The center helps parents to build social competence and connections and provides concrete assistance in building resilience within families.

Their team consists of three early education advocates and one lead family advocate. Their advocates service approximately 690 square miles of the Kern River Valley. They

have two advocates that are trained to renew Medi-Cal and two advocates that are certified car seat techs. Each advocate carries a caseload.

The center just implemented a research based curriculum.  They have a home visit plan, and instructions to assist parents.  They also provide court mandated parenting classes throughout the year, with a non-spanking based curriculum, approved by the Department of Human Services (DHS) to be the “proper way of parenting” under the DHS’s guidelines and codes. They currently have a class going, which they offered bi-lingual.    

Recently the Family Resource Center was awarded a $10,000 grant from DHS to assist families.  “We provide the classes for free because we have a lot of families that can’t afford it but benefit from the class,” Mercier said.

The center hosts a monthly stroll and a parent cafe for clients to meet friends and form close connections. The center does a lot of community outreach and a pre school story time. They provide activity pages to local day care centers. They also do Kernville Back to School nights.

Mercier said that the center is always trying to build a bridge between the schools and families and with their children. And their goal at the Family Resource Center is always to keep the children in the home.