September-October 2020              
Playgroups, Support Groups, Parenting Education, Special Events


Email to register or for information:
or call
978-429-8284 ext. 202 on Fridays
     Thank You! 

If you have any concerns about your child's development or readiness for preschool, you can contact your public school preschool program listed below for a free screening if your child is age 2.9-5.

978-264-4700 x3948
781-275-6804 x4916
978-456-4140 x3106
Diane MacKenzie
781-259-9400 x4500
978-692-5560 x2132 

If you are a grandparent raising your grandchild(ren) for any reason and would like to meet other grandparents doing the same, there is a monthly group that is open to all:

3rd Tuesday of each Month


Held online via Zoom

Contact person:

Joe O'Leary, 978-760-0360  

Learn from other grandparents and experts about legal and financial strategies and community resources. Discover ways to relieve stress. Share in the grief of your own children being unable to parent, the rewards of nurturing your grandchildren, the challenges of parenting in a different generation, or just listen! 


The GRG Commission also facilitates bi-weekly virtual groups held at the following times:

1st/3rd Mondays, 7:30-8:30 pm

1st/3rd Tuesdays 9:30-10:30 am


"Regression & Re-Entry to School" presented by the Federation for Children with Special Needs" will be held on September 9, 7-8:30 pm


To receive the link  for either the groups or presentation, email: 

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group

meets virtually this Fall for those who've experienced pregnancy loss, or infant loss shortly after birth, and are seeking support from others with shared experiences. Join Nurse Practitioner Katie Stockman on the following dates:

September 14, October 12

6:30-8:00 p.m.

Individuals should contact the facilitator to receive the connecting link.
or 978-287-3422
This is a free program.

Family Events on Columbus Day Weekend
Support Mental Health
At the end of September, drive by Cucurbit Farm and vote for your favorite scarecrow - the winner will be announced Columbus Day Weekend along with fun family activities. If you'd like to make your own scarecrow, bring $25 NAMI donation to the farm and pick up your scarecrow frame.
 25 Parker St., Acton
The National Alliance for Mental Illness provides free education and support programs for all families.
Licensed Childcare Regulations relating to Covid-19 Updated

Capacity Limits
Depending on their physical space, some child care providers may now return to previous capacity limits. 

Expanded Childcare for Hybrid/Remote Districts
Section 8 details expanded child care options for families whose children are attending hybrid or fully remote classes, where child care and school districts can work cooperatively. 

Parent Co-ops
Section 8 also provides information about Parent Co-ops which have to meet certain requirements in order to be exempt from licensing, such as having 5 or less families collaborating on monitoring schoolwork and providing care. These groups must also include school-age children only. 

Details are provided here:

Littleton Parent Association

LPA is holding weekly virtual playgroups on Thursday mornings. Please like our Facebook page and join our group for more information.

Sudbury Family Network

SFN continues to connect, entertain & educate families thru socially distanced activities. Upcoming events include virtual moms groups, canned food drive, mom's night, outdoor barre class, toddler activities & more. To find up-to-date information, check out:
FB: Sudbury Family Network
FB Group: SFN Parents' Space
Instagram: SudburyFamilyNetwork

Concord Family Network 

CFN will continue their CFN Trail Explorers Program this fall, as well as the CFN Day Trippers posts to give members ideas of kid-friendly trails and socially-distanced family outings. They're planning virtual & socially distanced socials for moms and dads, a new-to-town virtual event for parents, and other socially distanced fall activities.

Connect with Your Family Network:

Acton & Boxborough
New Resource!

Bedford Youth & Family Services Diaper and Personal Items Bank 

Families in need of diapers, wipes or feminine hygiene products should contact social worker Christopher Bang at 
781-275-7727 or 
BYFS also provides free online counseling sessions to residents, fuel assistance applications and other low-income and mental health resources.

Information about making donations to the program is located here:
A new study finds that
Children Notice Race Several Years Before Adults Want to Talk About it: Lacking Information on Children's Development Contributes to Delay, 

For articles on how to talk to young children about race, and picture books that enhance the process: PBS Resources

What is Racism? 
For 2nd thru 5th Graders
Kids notice a lot, including skin color. They sense that it matters and they have questions about how and why. Wee the People will host a zoom workshop that will enable kids to explore how racism isn't just one thing, but a system with many parts working together. Through activities kids will learn how they can help disrupt and topple these systems. FREE. 
Held October 6, 4-5:00.
Register here: Concord Library 
Weekend Family Connection 
Foster Care Program
A new type of foster care program has been developed that bridges the gap between waiting youth and supportive caring adults. The program connects youth in residential care settings - who don't have the benefit of a family environment - with a family in the community willing to host them one weekend a month. Research shows that youth in residential care settings are most likely to be adopted by someone who already knows them, yet these are the very youth who are often disconnected from a wider community. As a host family for Weekend Family Connections you will help these youth have a positive experience of family life and help them connect to your community network, all with the goal of helping them find a connection to permanency.
For more information:  

A special thanks to recent grants and donations from:

Acton-Boxboro United Way: $1,000
Maynard Community Chest: $750
Concord-Carlisle Community Chest: $2,500
Acton Congregational Church: $2,500

Mariya Guinther, Sherree Foye, Laura Kennedy and Lindsay Beatty for diaper donations!
Jo Karen store in Acton for their donation of New Nursing Bras

Understanding Threenagers!
Often, around  2 1/2-3, children's behavior becomes newly challenging and parents may wonder, "Who is this child?" Three year olds begin to fiercely assert their independence, while at other times cling to adults and want help with tasks they have been able to do on their own for months. They can have BIG emotions that change all the time, shifting from gleeful to devastated to furious within minutes. If your child is in or approaching this age range, come learn about this stage of development and what is going on with your child, as well as some ways of managing their behavior. Presented by Ellie Springer, M.Ed. Register to receive the Zoom link by emailing
Thursday, October 29, 7:00 p.m. (via zoom)

Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) Chat
If you wonder what to expect as your child grows and develops, or if you have concerns about your child's development, come learn about the ASQ, a tool we have available for all families to assess how their child is developing. Mary and Ellie will answer your questions, show you what the questionnaire looks like, and explain the difference between the ASQ and the ASQ-SE (social-emotional). You can join whether you have completed an ASQ before or not, and whether you have specific questions or just want to learn more. Email Ellie at for the Zoom invitation. 
Thursday, September 24, 1:00 p.m. (via zoom)

First Year of Life Support Programs

These programs are open to parents from any town.
New Mothers Support Group
Mothers with babies 0-6 months are welcome to attend this ongoing weekly support group facilitated by lactation counselor and infant massage teacher Mary Beilman. 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. Held virtually via zoom. Guest Pediatricians from Acton Medical join the group periodically for topics specific to this developmental stage. Email for the link.
Held every Wednesday, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. via zoom
New Dads Group 
Our new dads group allows dads to make connections with other fathers, ask questions, exchange tips, and share their experiences of parenthood and all the changes that come with it. Facilitated by Heather O'Brien, LICSW, who also runs our postpartum wellness group. This group supports all new parents who identify as fathers. Whether you are parenting solo, partnered or married, adoptive or biological, have one baby or more, you are welcome here. Email to be added to the reminder email that is sent out with the monthly brief discussion topic & connecting link. 
Held September 15 and October 13, 7:30-9 pm via zoom.
Emotional Wellbeing After Baby Group
Emotional challenges are the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth, yet parents often feel isolated and ashamed if they are struggling. Mothers or fathers experiencing anxiety or depression in the postpartum year can come together in this supportive, nonjudgmental, confidential group to share stories and learn from each other while receiving coping skills strategies. This is an ongoing, weekly group for parents of babies 0-12 months. Before participating for the first time please contact the facilitator, Heather O'Brien, LICSW at  so she can send you the connecting link.
Held every Thursday, 10:00-11:30 a.m. via zoom
Playgroups begin the week of September 14 and end October 26
Registration is required for all groups:
There will be a second session of playgroups this Fall in Nov.-Dec. which you can register for at that time. 

Registration for families living outside of Acton, Bedford, Boxboro, Carlisle, Concord, Harvard, Hanscom AFB, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Sudbury or Westford will be on
a space-available basis and confirmed one week prior to start date *(except for 6-11 month playgroups which receive supplemental funding and are open to all towns). Families may register for one group which siblings are welcome to attend. All groups require participation of a parent or caregiver, connection via zoom, and are facilitated by an early childhood educator. FREE.
*6-11 Month Parent/Child Group Meets Wednesdays, 10:30-11:30
This playgroup includes infant developmental discussions, resources, and Ages & Stages suggested activities for this age group, as well as continued support for parents during this time of rapid change and postpartum adjustment. 
One Year Olds Playgroup: Fridays at 10:00
Two Year Olds Playgroup: Thursdays at 10:00
Based on the Ages & Stages Developmental Milestones suggested activities for this age group, includes interactive story time, songs, rhymes and more.

Multilingual Families Playgroups 
A child's primary language and culture are key contributors to lifelong development. This playgroup is specifically for families who are conversing in a language other than English as part of their family culture and daily life. If you are registering for this group for the first time, please let us know the language other than English that is spoken at home. Appropriate for ages 1 1/2-5. 
Mondays at 10:00 for all ages, co-led by Yu Song (who is bilingual Chinese)
Tuesdays at 10:00 for Preschoolers age 3-5

STEAM Playgroup for Ages 3-5 held Fridays at 11:00
This group will include books and activities focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math for preschoolers.

Military Families Multi-Age Playgroup held Wednesdays at 11:00 
This playgroup is for families who are affiliated with a local military branch or have access to Hanscom Air Force Base, which is where the group was located pre-Covid-19. The group provides an opportunity for active-duty military families to connect with and get to know each other. Appropriate for ages 6 mos. thru 5.

If you would like an updated library storytime listing for our 11 towns, or an updated child care/preschool listing, just let Linda know ( and she will email it to you as soon as it is completed. The lists will also be posted on our website, 


Registration deadline for Boxborough Library Fall Story Times is
TOMORROW, September 6th. There will be 2 choices:  1 1/2 to pre-K group on Mondays 3:30-4 OR Tuesday 11-11:30 with a weekly pickup of a craft/sensory activity; Also, a Pre-K and older group on Tuesdays at 4:00 with a weekly art/craft/stem pickup. Register: 

Drop-in Mother Goose on the Lawn at Westford Library 
In-person, outside, socially-distanced Mother Goose storytime for babies and preschoolers will be held at 10:30 on the dates below. Masks required for everyone except babies under 6 months. Socially distanced markers will be on the grass. Takes place as long as there's no snow, rain or gale-force winds. Bring a blanket or chair if the grass has dew. No registration required. FREE.
Tuesdays, Sept. 22 & 29, Nov. 3, 10, and Thursdays Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29.

Hands-on Nature Class via Zoom from Littleton Library
Heather Simpson will be back to do nature classes once a month this Fall for kids kindergarten age and older. The next one will be held October 22 at 3:00. FREE. Sign up for the link here: Littleton Library

Flying High Dogs with Mike Piazza on Westford Common
Mike and his 4 border collies will perform a variety of frisbee and other amazing tricks on the town common opposite the library. FREE. Held Wednesday, October 14, 3:30-4:30. Register for your outdoor socially-distanced spot here:  Frisbee Dogs  (rain date October 15)

Virtual Crafternoon: "Let's Celebrate Dot Day" for Grades K & Up
Join Miss Heidi at Sudbury Library to celebrate International Dot Day. Read the book, then create dot masterpieces together. All participants will be encouraged to try something new, be brave and make their mark, just like in the story. FREE. Held September 15. Register: 3-3:45 Dot Day 3:00 or 4-4:45 Dot Day 4:00

"Art Ramble" at Hapgood Wright Town Forest in Concord
This outdoor public art installation throughout the trails makes a fun outing for kids and parents. The art will be displayed thru November 8. The parking lot for the forest is on Walden Street across from Concord high school. The theme is Water. FREE. 

Do you Have a School-age Child who Loves Books & Writing?
Silver Unicorn Books in West Acton will be holding Wednesday afternoon virtual events where children can listen to authors being interviewed about their writing and learn about their new books. These are free programs, held from 3-4:00 p.m. between September 2 and November 18. 


How to Get Started Homeschooling, thru Sudbury Library
Are you actively considering home education, or are you just curious about how it's done? Join Advocates for Home Education in Mass. for a presentation which will include a homeschooling overview, getting started, methods, resources, and homeschooling support. Held September 9, 6:30-8 pm. Register here

Ask the Expert: Autism and Anxiety during Covid-19
Dr. Rafael Castro from ICCD, and the Center for Autism & Related Disorders and Preschool Clinic at Children's Hospital, will speak with parents during a webinar on ways to help children manage anxiety, especially during the current learning conditions. Held September 17, 7-8:30 pm. FREE. Reg. by 9/16. AANE Webinar

Behavior: The Language of Children & What we Can Learn From it
Join Donna Shea for a look at how behavior problems may occur when we misunderstand what a child is trying to tell us. Adults may find themselves continually addressing the same behaviors and wonder why their child keeps repeating these behaviors. The workshop will help you get under the behavior and discover what your child is trying to tell you. She will explore the role anxiety, avoidance, attention-seeking and communication challenges play, and share simple but effective strategies to assist in better understanding what your child is trying so hard to communicate with you. FREE.
Thursday, September 10, 3:00-4:30, 

Designing a Family Media Plan - September 16, 7:30-9 pm
Let's Talk Family Media Plan Q & A - September 23, 7:30-9 pm
Mindful Wellness Over Digital Distraction - October 14, 7:30-9 pm
The Center for Parents and Teachers in Concord is presenting this series of webinars and discussions to assist families in looking at and developing a family media plan. Psychologist Sharon Maxwell and Educator Chelsea Maxwell will help parents understand how the internet is impacting our brains, how the online world takes advantage of the hardwired structure of our brains, the science behind digital distraction, information overload and over-reliance on digital media in everyday tasks. For registration information and details about the presenters and each evening's content: 

Patient & Family Education Day-Bipolar Disorder
Mass. General's Psychiatry Academy offers important clinical expertise from academic clinicians and shares a patient-centered vision of bipolar treatment. It allows individuals, their family, friends and others to learn about and become actively involved in the treatment of someone they care about. FREE. Begins September 21 at your own pace. Includes 4 call-in Q&A's on October 5 & 20 and November 2 &16. Topics cover Pediatric Bipolar, Psychosocial Interventions, Mania & Psychosis Treatment, and Bipolar Depression. Register here:  MGH Psychiatry Academy

Toilet Training with Tender Loving Care (12 mos. and up)
This workshop addresses family readiness, necessary toilet training equipment, pull-ups vs. underwear, solutions for regression and resistance, fun tips for success, resources and answers to personal questions. Held virtually on Tuesday, September 22, 7-9 pm, $35. Register here: The Loved Child

Positive Discipline for Ages 1-6
Overview of positive discipline to learn practical solutions and how to best support your child's challenging moments. Highlights the importance of temperament, early brain development, difficulty between discipline and punishment, helpful preventive measures, and possible solutions for difficult moments. Helpful resources and time for personal questions. Held virtually on Tuesday, October 6, 7-9 pm, $35. Register here: The Loved Child

The Realities of the Start of the School Year
Gene Beresin, M.D., Harvard Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at MGH, will address this topic and take questions from the audience which can be submitted in advance during the registration process, which is required to receive the connecting link. FREE.
Held Thursday, October 8, 7-8:30 pm,. Register The Discovery Museum

The Psychology of Artistic Behavior in Children
Dr. Ellen Winner, Boston College Professor of Psychology and Senior Researcher at Harvard Graduate School's Project Zero, focuses her work on cognition in the arts in typical and gifted children as well as adults. Join her for a presentation on Wednesday, October 21, 7-8:30 pm, FREE. Register:

"ADHD in the Family," zoom presentation thru Westford Library
ADHD, despite its prevalence, is highly misunderstood in the general population. It carries risks and challenges for both children and adults when undiagnosed or untreated. Once addressed, families and individuals dealing with ADHD can not only survive, but thrive. Certified ADHD Coach Linda King will present current research, effective treatment, and concrete suggestions for family members who either have or are affected by ADHD. Held Thursday, October 1, 7-8:30 pm. FREE. For the link email: 

Think:Kids Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS)
CPS is an evidence-based approach to understanding and helping children with behavioral challenges. If the rewards and consequences approach hasn't worked for you, Think:Kids research suggests that some children lack crucial thinking skills around problem solving, frustration tolerance and flexibility. The CPS training helps adults teach the skills their children lack while resolving chronic problems that tend to precipitate challenging behavior. The program is self-paced and available thru 6/30/21 at a special Covid rate of $99. Includes discussion boards monitored by MGH faculty and the opportunity to connect with other participants. Info/registration:  Think:Kids CPS

English at Large Free Fall Online Classes
Classes include beginner English classes, conversation groups, career access lab, and one-to-one tutoring for which there is a 9- to 12-month wait list. For more information go to:  or call 781-395-2374

If you would like the list of additional community-wide Fall support groups that originally appeared in Week 13 of the Free & Low Cost newsletter, just email and we'll send it to you.

Saturday Morning Parents & Infants Community Group
6-session "4th Trimester" topics relevant to families with infants 0-6 months meets from 1:30-2:45 virtually beginning September 26. Weekly parenting topic focusing on infant development or behavior, weekly newsletter with play and activity suggestions. $145. Register here: The Loved Child

Single Parent Zoom Group Begins September 16
The new normal presents new challenges as single parenting just got more complicated. Join fellow single parents and parenting expert Jessica Post, LICSW, for supportive strategies and solutions for doing it all and the need for self care. Held 8:30-9:30 pm on Wednesdays. $30, pre-registration required: JCC Greater Boston

Friday Morning FREE New Moms Group, 10:30-12:00, Begins 9/25
The Freedman Center at William James College sponsors this program which will be facilitated by Emma Peterson, Ph.D. 6-week group includes developmental issues, self care, relationship changes, childcare, more. Registration required: The Freedman Center
If you will need financial assistance during the holidays this year and you live in.....
Acton: Contact Community Services Coordinator Laura Ducharme at or 978-929-6651.

Bedford: Contact Bedford Youth & Family Services at 781-275-7727 or 

Concord & Carlisle: Contact Bonny Wilbur, Community Services Coordinator, 978-318-3034 or 

Littleton & Harvard: Contact the Client Advocate at Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry, 978-772-4627 x312 or go to

Sudbury: Contact town social worker Bethany Hadvab, 978-440-5476 or Holiday assistance applications are usually due Mid-OctoberFamilies or organizations wishing to donate to this project can also contact Bethany.
Acton, Bedford, Boxboro, Concord, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard & Westford: 
The annual Beacon Santa fundraiser benefits children living in the above towns (in addition to others). Applications are usually due October 31! For questions and information call 978-371-5795, check pick up an application at the offices at 150 Baker Ave. Ext., Suite 101, Concord.

Any Town: Justice Resource Institute has a Hope for All Seasons program that can help needy families who are participating in their programs, such as First Connections. Email to let us know about your special circumstance and how we can help. 

Please note that most holiday assistance programs allow families to receive gifts from only one program.

First Connections is funded by a Coordinated Family and Community Engagement grant awarded to Justice Resource Institute by the Mass. Department of Early Education and Care and by the generous support of Eastern Bank, Concord-Carlisle Community Chest, Acton Congregational Church, Trinitarian Congregational Church, Maynard Community Chest, Acton Boxborough United Way, and other community partners. We provide free support, early childhood and parent education, and resources to all families with children under age 9 living in Acton, Bedford, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Harvard, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Sudbury, Westford and Hanscom AFB. To view our direct services and programs, please visit