Every parent wants the best for their children, but when life throws unforeseen circumstances their way; even providing basic needs can become difficult.  

When Jane* was referred to the Island Wide Youth Collaborative, our Massachusetts Family Resource Center, the world she dreamed of giving her children felt unattainable.  

“When I walked into IWYC I appeared hopeless, helpless and empty. I was alone and didn’t know what the future held, the future that I once held so firmly in my hands. IWYC may not have known it, but they saved my life.”

When our staff first met Jane, she was three months sober, on the brink of homelessness and getting out of an abusive relationship while carrying her second child. The Island that Jane was born and raised on became the same place where she felt her world slipping away.  

The IWYC helped Jane recognize her inner strength and rebuild the life she thought she lost.

“They gave me faith that I didn’t know existed and helped me love myself until I learned how to love myself again.”

Today, thanks to the guidance of MV Community Services – Jane is able to support her family in ways she once felt were impossible.  While every story is different, Jane’s story represents one of the 368 individuals touched by our Island Wide Youth Collaborative each year.

* Fictional name to respect the confidentiality of our clients.

Since the IWYC opened in 2015, the need for services continues to grow.

Recently, the Department of Children and Families recognized the demand for services on Island and expanded the IWYC’s contract.  Since the expansion, the Center has shifted from a Micro-Family Resource Center (FRC) program model to a Full Services FRC, enabling the IWYC to both double its staff and expand programming.   

We connected with Island Wide Youth Collaborative’ s Program Director, Susan Mercier, to learn more about how this expansion will impact programming and services offered by the Island Wide Youth Collaborative.

Aside from expanding on existing services, what does becoming a Full-Service Family Resource Center mean for the community?

This is a huge opportunity for the island. We are able to bring in more staff and increase our programming. We will be increasing our collaboration with programs here at MV Community Services as well as our community partners. With the increase in staff we have expanded our hours to include three evenings a week and two Saturdays a month. We will also be offering parent education for parents and caregivers of children ages 8 to 12 as well as a parenting class for parents of teenagers. Our clinician, Janelle Berneche will be facilitating social skills groups beginning in mid-March. These are just a few of the exciting programs we have in the works!

How does this shift impact your ability to collaborate with our MV Family Center?

We were able to hire a Family Support Worker who will be working out of the MV Family Center. This is a wonderful addition to their program. Families are able to access information and referrals while participating in programming or can make an appointment.

You recently launched Parent Connections, a support group for parents of teens who are using or at risk of using substances, can you talk about the goal for that group?

This parent group, which meets twice a month, is being facilitated by two MV Community Services Recovery Coaches. They are meeting with parents who may have concerns regarding their adolescents’ vaping and/or substance use. The goal of the group is to build capacity in parents to not only recognize the signs of use, but to strengthen their knowledge and communication skills in this area.

What are some of the programs that are in the works and how can people learn more?

Beginning in Mid-March we will be offering Parenting Journey which is a 12-week parenting class for parents and caregivers with children ages 8 to 12. We will also be starting two social skills groups. We plan to host a community dinner each month – our first is Tuesday, January 28th from 5pm to 7pm. We will also be hosting numerous community programs a month – bilingual storytime, arts and crafts events and game days to name a few!

Upcoming events:

Could you, or someone you know benefit from our services?

We connect families and individuals to resources available on the Island. Reach out to us to learn more about our services and set-up an initial meeting.  For mental health emergencies call our 24/7 Emergency Services line at 508-693-0032.

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