HYRUM — The Child & Family Support Center in Hyrum currently shares its space with Dr. CJ Graham. That is all about to change.
On July 1, the center received a $150,000 grant from the Utah State Legislature. With this funding, the center plans to break ground before the end of October on a $200,000 building addition and improvement project.
The Center’s mission is to strengthen families and protect children. The original center was established in Logan in 1962 by residents of the community who saw a need for helping families and kids in the area. In 2006, the Logan center’s staff realized they could not accommodate the amount of growth it was experiencing.
“There are large growth rates and we had more community needs than the center in Logan could handle,” Esterlee Molyneux said. “I have worked here for 19 years and have been the executive director since 2005. I believe so strongly in what we do here. This place saves lives.”
The center in Hyrum opened its doors in October 2013, after strategic planning and population demographics indicated Hyrum would be the ideal location.
The support center offers four core areas of expertise, which include a crisis service, parenting education, children’s education and therapy sessions.
“This is a place to help,” said Vikki Salinas, Hyrum nursery supervisor. “It provides a better situation for many children and is an asset for parents in the area.”
The centers offers a place to watch children for parents who may have a terminal illness or need time alone at a doctor’s office. The center also is the place where law enforcement brings children who are found with no supervision.
“This is not a day care, we are here to strengthen,” Molyneux said.
Utah has the highest fertility rate in America at 2.45. Molyneux explained that because of the children-to-parent ratio, many parents don’t have much time to do things for themselves.
There are a lot of children and not as many parents in this area, she said. “We offer a service called RESPITE, which allows parents to drop their children off for several hours and they can take a little break and clear their minds.”
In addition to their crisis program, the center offers parenting and children’s classes. In these classes, college graduates in child development teach families various skills and techniques that if used correctly can help families be stronger.
“There isn’t anything better than working with the children here,” said Michael Hardman, a nursery aide. “It feels good having a job like this, knowing that the time you are putting in is going to help someone.”
The center also offers a therapy service for individuals or families who have been victims in a crime or a form of abuse. Sex crimes against children are increasing in Cache County, and the center offers a place for those affected by that situation to come forward and get help.
“We see a lot of different things here,” said Sarah Doria, who started an internship with the Hyrum center at the end of August. “It is nice to have a place like this for families to turn to in a time of need. It is all about the children and families, anything we can do to help. That is why we are here.”
The job isn’t about the money for many of the employees of the support center.
“This place doesn’t make any sense financially,” Molyneux said. “If someone looked at our numbers on paper they would think that there is no way we make it each month. But somehow at the end of the day it all comes together. People are here because they care. Their paychecks here are not much of anything, but there is something about participating in something that makes a difference in people’s lives that is very powerful and it keeps us all coming back.”
The Hyrum center is less than a year old and when the new expansion begins, will be the newest building in the city.
“It will be great to have more room when the addition is complete,” said Meera Mystry, a nursery aide. “It is hard to accommodate all of our needs now with our limited space. With the addition we will have a larger nursery, classrooms for our children’s and parent’s education classes and more space to be flexible with.”
They are looking to recruit more families who are in need, Salinas said. Just getting their name out there and letting people know what they do will help them gain interest in the community, she said.
“Sometimes the hardest thing to do is ask for help,” Molyneux said. “People try to be too humble and don’t want to impact others, so they just try and do it all themselves. But we want families to know that we are here and our whole purpose is to help.”
The building addition is expected to be under construction through the winter, and open in the spring.