July-August 2017
First Connections Newsletter
Summer Programs
First Connections is a Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Grant program through the Mass. Dept. of Early Education and Care. We provide support, resources, and early childhood learning opportunities free of charge to all families with children under age nine in Acton, Bedford, Boxboro, Harvard, Hanscom AFB, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Sudbury and Westford. Justice Resource Institute is our Lead Agency. 

Thank you to Concord-Carlisle Community Chest for the $24,000 Grant awarded on June 8th!
Transition Activities

Fall 2017 kindergartners heading to the Blanchard School are welcome to attend a special library program for stories, to meet other classmates, and receive a library card. Parents need to fill out a library card application at the children's desk prior to the event they will attend.  Call 978-263-4680 with questions. 
4:00 p.m.
Sargent Memorial Library

All Acton-Boxborough Public Schools incoming kindergartners are invited to meet their classmates and have a popsicle at the playground!
RSVP required before attending: kindysocial@abfamily.org
3:00-5:00 p.m.
Goward Playground

Concord Family Network will host their annual Back to School Popsicle Party! This CFN tradition is free and open to all Concord families with a child entering kindergarten at any of the three elementary schools. In addition to tasty popsicles, we'll have face painting, coloring activities and more. Please RSVP so we have enough pops for every child by emailing concordfamilynetwork@gmail.com
 or through the form on www.concordfamilynetwork.org.
Please include:
Names of adults attending
Names of kids attending
Kindergartner's school
Kindergarten teacher's name
Location for this activity is still in progress.
3:30-5:00 p.m.

  J une 24, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Annual Climb Out of the 
Darkness Walk at
Walden Pond

Climb out of the Darkness is the world's largest event raising funds for awareness of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth, affecting 1 in 7 women. 

Postpartum Support  International
has become the new sponsor of the annual walk at Walden Pond, with Dr. Lauren Brown coordinating the event locally (drlaurenjbrown@gmail.com). She has designated First Connections' First Year of Life programs as the recipient of 75% of funds raised this year. To register to walk or donate to the walk, please use this link: 

Foster Care and Adoption 
in Massachusetts 
with Lindsey Bolio 
         at Randall Library, Stow         

In the past couple of years there has 
been a sharp increase in the number of 
children needing  foster care, and not 
enough homes to support the increase. 
Learn how you can change the life of
a child in need by being a foster parent.
June 22,  7:00 p.m .

Or read more about becoming a foster 
parent at:

Updated Resources On Our Website



2017 Early Childhood Education and Care Listing for our Catchment Towns, including subsidy and scholarship info.

2017 Playgrounds Update

2017 Swimming Lessons
brain building
Our Annual Free and Low Cost Things To Do With Children Aged 0-8 is almost ready! 


The chronological list for June 23 thru August includes events, programs and activities in or near our catchment area towns, most of which are on a drop-in basis. Activities requiring registration or a small fee are clearly noted. You can receive the list in your email by sending a request to Linda: lmatthews@jri.org
We will also post it on our website when completed.    

If you have a child with any type of special need, the following newsletter will keep you up to date of monthly activities, workshops, and events that could be helpful:


NEW RESIDENCY POLICY: Due to a decrease in State grant funding, registration for families from Acton, Bedford, Boxboro, Carlisle, Concord, Harvard, Hanscom AFB, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Sudbury, and Westford will be prioritized until 1 week before groups begin, at which time out-of-catchment families will be registered as space allows. 
I f you need the contact information for the CFCE program serving your town, just ask - we can connect you! All CFCE grant recipients have the same programming requirements.

Registration is required for all groups by emailing Linda at lmatthews@jri.org. Summer session runs from the week of July 10 to the week of August 21.  Please let us know ANY dates you will be away so we can serve as many families as possible each week.  Playgroups are free of charge. Your child's age should match the group's description on the first day of playgroup.

Mobile Babies 10-17 Months 
Wednesdays, 2:30-3:30, at Maynard Public Library
This group is for babies who are crawling or newly walking. There will be free play time at the beginning, and stories and songs at the end. The facilitator will be available to talk to and answer questions, but we won't have the same structured adult talking time as in the infant group because the children are starting to move around and sitting still for more than a few minutes is too much to ask! Based on the Parents Interacting With Infants model.
July 12, 19, 26, August 2, 9, 16, 23

18 to 30 Months Large Motor & Literacy Playgroup
Tuesdays, 10:00-11:00, at WoodsEdge Children's Center in Sudbury
Children in this group should be steady on their feet. The group will combine a story and song circle time with gross motor activities in the preschool's gym. Activities include balancing, jumping, throwing and kicking balls. We will also work on literacy skill building. Not safe for non-walking siblings. 
July 11, 18, 25, August 1, 8, 15, 22 

1 1/2 thru 5 Year Multilingual Read & Rise Group
This playgroup is for families who speak a second language other than English at home. The group includes free play, circle time with stories and songs, and snack time. In addition, opportunities will be included for parents to discuss how culture, traditions, and everyday family experiences can foster literacy. Families will also explore fun ways to build early literacy skills at home. This program utilizes the Scholastic Read & Rise model.   
Thursdays, 9:30-11:00 at First Connections in Acton
July 13, 20, 27, August 3, 10, 17, 24

2 1/2 thru 5 Year Old Outdoor Adventure Group
Wednesdays, 10-11:00 a.m. in Westford
This group will explore the great outdoors using our senses. We will take short walks exploring all we see, hear, smell and feel around us. We will also read a book and do some activities during our walks. Siblings under 2 should be held in a backpack, sling or carrier since strollers will not smoothly travel along the trails, and toddlers may find it hard to keep up. Please wear sturdy walking shoes, appropriate clothing and bug spray to protect you from mosquitoes and ticks.
Held at Stony Brook Conservation Land
July 12, 19, 26, August 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 

5 thru 8 Year Old Outdoor Adventure Group
Thursdays, 1-2:00, at The Wetlands Walkway at the Lincoln School in Lincoln
This group will walk on the new Wetlands Walkway exploring this very interesting wetlands area. Every week we will read a book and do activities together in the group, as well as have some to take home to do with your family. Please wear sturdy walking shoes, appropriate clothing and bug spray to protect you from mosquitoes and ticks. Activities & books will be geared to school age children. Younger siblings who can keep up with the group or are "worn" in a carrier are welcome. 
July  13, 20, 27, August 3, 10, 17, 24  


Our new parent programs receive supplemental funding in addition to our State grant and are therefore free and open to families from all towns. 
We thank the Pediatric Intervention Team at Emerson Hospital for providing funding for the following programs in July and August.

Infant 3-9 Month Playgroup
Mondays, 1:00-2:00, held at 
Gleason Library in Carlisle
This group includes developmental discussions and handouts, playtime, circle time with finger plays, rhymes and songs. Based on the Parents Interacting With Infants model.  Please let us know any dates you will be away this summer so we can register as many families as possible for each week. Registration required.
July 10, 17, 24, 31, August 7, 14, 21

First-Time Moms Group
Mondays, 1:00-2:30, held at Reuben Hoar Library, Littleton. 
Facilitated by a Certified Lactation Counselor (registration required: lmatthews@jri.org). For the new parent, there are many changes, many questions, and often a feeling of isolation if you've just left the working world or your family is not close by. This group strives to be educational, supportive, and the ideal format for new mothers to share ideas and experiences. During the 6 weeks we focus on adjusting to your new role as a mother, infant care concerns (feeding, crying, sleeping), infant development, making the return-to-paid work or stay-at-home mom decision, and changes in your relationships with your spouse, family and friends. Based on the Zero to Three Healthy Minds Series. 
August 14, 21, 28, Sept. 11, 18, 25  

Ongoing New Mothers Group - Wednesdays 1:30-3:00*
Held at Emerson Health & Wellness Center, 310 Baker Avenue Extension, Concord, in the yoga studio.
Any mother with a pre-crawling baby is welcome to attend this weekly support group. Open discussion format is a forum for you to share experiences and resources, connect with other new mothers, and seek guidance about any concerns you might have. No registration required. Co-facilitated by a Certified Lactation Counselor  from First Connections and a Certified Lactation Consultant from Emerson Hospital.  *This group will not meet on Wednesday, August 9 due to vacation schedules of the facilitators. The location will change in September.
E motional Well Being After Baby Group -
Held at First Connections, 179 Great Road, Acton  
Emotional challenges are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth, yet mothers often feel isolated and ashamed if they are struggling. Mothers experiencing anxiety or depression, or who are feeling overwhelmed in the postpartum year can come together for this supportive, nonjudgmental, confidential group to share stories and learn from each other. While this is an ongoing, weekly group, before attending for the first time please contact the facilitator, Heather O'Brien, LICSW, hobrien@jri.org.  Meets Every Thursday, 10-11:30* 
*This group will not meet on Thursdays July 6 or August 24 due to the facilitator's vacation schedule.
New Dads Group - One Tuesday per Month
Held at First Connections, 179 Great Road, Acton
Our new dads group allows dads to make connections with other fathers, ask questions, exchange tips, and share their experiences of parenthood. Fathers are welcome to attend with or without babies, most of whom are 0-12 months. Facilitated by Heather O'Brien, LICSW, who runs our postpartum group, and at least one "veteran" father. Email hobrien@j ri.org to be added to the monthly reminder email list for discussion topics.
Meets Tuesdays, July 11 and August 8, 7:00-8:30 p.m. 
First Connections Advisory Council Welcomes New Members

First Connections' grant is overseen by an Advisory Council made up of parents from towns in our catchment area as well as other agencies and programs serving families with young children, including:
Town Parent Association Group Reps
Public School Administrators
Preschool Directors
Family Day Care Provider
Early Intervention Staff
Head Start Rep
Child Care Voucher Staff
Social Service Agency Reps
Children's Librarians
Discovery Museum Ed. Director
Dept. of Children & Families Social Worker
Town Social Workers
Wellness Practitioners
Emerson Hospital Pediatric InterventionTeam
WIC Coordinator
Housing Authority Staff

We are currently seeking a parent who may be interested in being the Co-chair of the council, and also a parent or provider from Harvard who would like to join the council, please contact Mary Beilman, 978-429-8284, x201 or mbeilman@jri.org
Community Activities for Parents
(Kids' activities will be on our Free & Low-Cost Summer Things To Do list)

Upcoming Emerson Hospital Healthy Living Family Programs
Please call 978-287-3777 or go to www.emersonwellness.org to register.
July 11 or August 1: Infant CPR for two participants, $50, Tuesdays, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
July 13: Soon to be Grandparents Class for 2 participants, $30, 7-9:00 p.m.
June 17, July 15, August 12: Babysitter Training for Ages 10-13, $50, Saturdays, 9-1:00

Upcoming Lowell General Hospital Health & Wellness Family Programs
Please call 877-544-9355 or go to www.lowellgeneral.org to register
June 24, August 26: Boot Camp for Expectant Fathers, $25, Saturdays, 9-12:00
July 10, August 14, Sept. 11: Family & Friends CPR for Infants, Children & Adults, $20, 6:30-8:30, Taught by Trinity Emergency Medical Services
July 31: Happiest Baby on the Block Class w/DVD & HALO Sleep Sack, $15, 6-7:30
August 1: Infant Massage for 6 wks. to 1 year babies, $15, 12:30-1:30
Sept. 11: SIDS Certification Class for Child Care Providers, Expectant/New Parents, Free, 6-7:30, Mass. Dept. of Early Education and Care Curriculum
Every Friday: Itsy Bitsy Moving & Grooving for Newborns to Crawlers, Free, 10-11:15, taught by an Early Intervention Specialist

Support Group for Parents of Children with Special Needs at Pediatrics West
Free group for parents and caregivers of children with a variety of special needs. The goal of the group is to provide support, build friendships, and offer a safe place to exchange ideas with others in similar situations. Meets at 133 Littleton Rd., 3rd Floor Conference Room, Westford from 7-8:30 p.m. 
July 11 and August 10, Contact Alison for more info: 978-577-0414.
WIC Program Locations and Eligibility Information
The Women, Infants and Children Nutrition program provides healthy food for your family if you have a child under age 5 and meet income eligibility requirements. A family of 4 can earn $45,510 per year and be eligible. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are also eligible for WIC. More information is available at www.mass.gov/wic or 1-800-WIC-1007. Local offices are in Ayer, Clinton, Marlboro, Leominster, Framingham, Lowell and Waltham.

Statewide Childcare Subsidy Wait List Information
T he Mass. Dept. of Early Education and Care provides subsidies to low-income families who meet the work or activity requirements and need childcare or before/after school care.  There are 25,000 families on the wait list, so if you are anticipating needing financial assistance for childcare please read the information provided at this link to see if you are eligible, and if so complete an application:

Do you live in Acton, Boxborough, Concord, Littleton, Maynard or Westford and not have access to a car during the day? The Cross-Town Connect transportation service has two low-cost options that can take you to First Connections, shopping plazas, the train station, town halls, libraries and Concord medical facilities. Children can ride in the vans without a car seat, or bring your own. The cost per ride is $1. Call 978-844-6809 or go to www.crosstownconnect.org for more information.  In addition, the Minute Van service provides scheduled pick up/drop off rides for $4/ride in Acton. To make a reservation in advance for your trip call 978-844-6809 or www.minutevan.net

Do you live in Bedford and not have access to a car during the day?
The DASH transportation system is available to all Bedford residents weekdays from 12 Noon to 6 p.m. The van can transport you within Bedford or to Concord, Billerica, Burlington or Lexington. Cost is only $2 each way in Bedford or $4 each way out of town. For more information: www.BedfordDash.com  or 781-275-3274.