A Fresh Face at First Step Drop-In Center
When parents and caregivers bring their children to First Step’s Drop-In Center, they find a comfortable place to bring their children for play. There are multiple stimulating and developmentally appropriate rooms for tummy-time play, crawling, and walking, reading a book, and learning to speak and interact through socialization with other families. Pre-school-aged children enjoy larger toys and engage in hands-on activities in the patio space as well as the playground.
The Drop-In Center at First Step offers snacks, coffee, tea, and a place for people to connect. Families can visit, shop our Clothing Closet, ask to be referred to various resources, and even request assistance in obtaining needed safety equipment.
First Step’s new Drop-In Center Coordinator, Melia Winters, is a solo mother of two working on a bachelor’s degree in community health. Her background is in domestic violence advocacy, and she has been a client at the Drop-In Center in the past.
Among the changes Melia has brought to the Drop-In Center, an overarching theme is mindfulness. “When you come to Drop-In you’ll find a safe place to simply just be in the moment.”
Art is always in action, with the most recent project being ice painting, a great activity for almost all ages. Children paint ice cubes and then use the painted ice cubes to create watercolor paintings.
The Garden is Growing
Chi Farms, of Sequim, donates a weekly farm share to the Drop-In Center on Wednesdays, which is portioned and shared with families who come by to play. Herbs and veggies grown in the Drop-In garden are harvested and shared.
A local family living in a nearby apartment come by the Drop-In Center to use the playroom. It is a great space for crawling and learning to walk. Using the variety of large toys at First Step provides excellent child development that they cannot make room for at home. Mom uses the free Clothing Closet as a clothes swap opportunity every time her child grows into the next size of clothing. The family looks forward to the social interactions they have with other families when visiting.
Support in Times of Need
Families from all walks of life will feel occasional hardships and face adversity. When parents experience struggles such as food or supply shortages, lack of transportation, illness, or lack of adequate housing, they are sometimes unable to meet the basic needs of their families. Asking for help can feel embarrassing. Some families are unsure who they can rely on for support.
At First Step, the front lines of support can be found at the Drop-In Center, where families can come for a reprieve from the stress and isolation that pregnancy and parenting can sometimes bring.
Parents and caregivers can ask for help with formula, diapers, and wipes. They can shop for clothing and equipment for newborns, babies, and toddlers, join healthy cooking classes, and find support groups for lactation. Pregnancy tests, condoms, and feminine hygiene products are available and discreetly provided.
Family Well-Being Navigators can match parents and caregivers with local resources to meet their needs in a more personalized way. They can provide emotional support as well, scheduling private time for parents to talk through issues and to request assistance with problem-solving.
The Drop-In Center is designed to address a multi-generational community of family support, available not just to parents and children but also to grandparents, foster families, and anyone pregnant and or caring for young children.
Research indicates that by using a protective factors approach (see Protective Factors), helping parents and caregivers understand their child’s development and social and emotional needs, helping families in need to secure basic necessities, and providing multi-generational support to the whole family, parents/caregivers and children can do well, even in the most challenging environments.
First Step’s Drop-In Center is located at 325 East 6th Street in Port Angeles and is open Monday through Thursday from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.