Family Workshops Nurture Parenting Skills and Build Support Networks

Elsie Lam and her partner Justin are part of an ever-shrinking minority in our city: they are native San Franciscans.

Elsie grew up and still lives in the Richmond District. She has worked for Starbucks off and on for over 20 years, starting as a barista, moving up to store management and eventually working in corporate human resources. Justin is a lecturer at San Francisco State.

When they had their first child, Jayce, three years ago, Elsie and Justin found themselves in an ever-growing population in San Francisco: families who can’t find or afford full-time child care.

Elsie says, “We knew nothing about what to look for in a child care environment, much less how much it would cost.” Luckily they turned to Children’s Council.

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“We were feeling lost and confused. We were searching online and came across an ad for Children’s Council. We attended the ‘Choosing Child Care’ workshop, and that really changed everything.”

She goes on to say, “Children’s Council helped us learn about the types of child care, teaching philosophies, and what to look for in terms of safety, cleanliness, background checks and food quality. ”

Through Children’s Council, Elsie and Justin found the perfect child care environment in their neighborhood. Elsie says, “The owner has been in business 17 years; her mother and daughter work there, and they love those children just like they are their own.”

Unfortunately, they could only afford full-time child care two days per week. So Jayce’s grandfather stepped in to care for him part-time, and Elsie was able to work from home. But they knew they had a lot to learn about raising a child, so still today the family attends many of our Parent/Caregiver workshops.   

She says, “We are a Children’s Council family, we come to everything! We come to Parent Café, Cooking Matters and Tuesday Playgroups. We attended Choosing a Preschool and we’ve used the Toy & Book Lending Library.”

This year they also attended our Fire Safety workshop: “There was lots of good information, but Jayce was restless and distracted us, I wasn’t sure how much we had gotten out of it. But when we got home, Jayce looked around and said, ‘Mommy, there are too many computer wires in the corner!’ It’s not just parents who are learning at workshops, the kids are listening and learning too, even when we don’t even realize it.”

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Recently, the family’s child care needs changed dramatically with the arrival of son Eli, now four months old. Also, Elsie’s father had a stroke. They are not sure when or if he will be able to look after the children, and allow Elsie to go back to work after maternity leave. They are in the process of applying for financial assistance to pay for child care through Children’s Council.

Like all families, Elsie, Justin, Jayce and Eli are sure to be faced with transitions and new challenges in the future. But they know they can count on the Children’s Council community to be with them every step of the way.

Elsie says, “Each time we come to Children’s Council we see familiar faces, staff and other families, it feels like a community. We’ve bonded with others. It’s nice to have that comfort level and know you can be honest and open, and share what you’re feeling.

I feel much more confident about what to look for in terms of child care and about child development because of Children’s Council. I always tell new parents to go to Children’s Council. If I meet families who can’t attend the workshops, I pass along all the advice and guidance that I have learned.”

Each year, Children’s Council touches the lives of over 20,000 families, including 5,000 parents and caregivers who attend our child development workshops. But we need your support to make all of this happen.

During this season of giving, we hope you’ll consider making a gift to Children’s Council. We need your support to help San Francisco families build confidence and community!

Click here to donate to Children’s Council now.

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