Vashon Youth & Family Services has recently received its third Best Starts for Kids grant from King County.
This grant funded the creation of a bilingual playgroup for the next three years, according to Program Manager and Parent Educator Christine Wood. The agency has offered the free Play and Learn group for several years, but the grant — $50,000 spread over three years — has enabled the agency to hire bilingual facilitator Briana Coughlan and provide a free, healthy snack. Coughlan, a mother of two daughters, is Guatemalan-American and grew up in Guatemala City.
Play and Learn meets from 10 to 11:30 a.m. each Monday and is for babies and children up to kindergarten age and their caregivers. With Coughlan in place, the group now includes Spanish and English songs and books and some beginning Spanish words, such as colors, Wood said.
While many children benefit from a bilingual environment, Wood said the grant is intended to help bridge the gap between Vashon’s English-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities. Word is beginning to spread about the group, Wood noted, adding that VYFS has a new Hispanic outreach program that is making a lot of connections to the Spanish-speaking community.
Additionally, Wood said the group provides caregivers with information and resources, helps build friendships among children and adults and instills in children a love of learning.
In recent years, Family Place, located at the corner of the Vashon Highway and Gorsuch Road, has been located upstairs, then moved downstairs and moved back upstairs again as of July 1.
“We are really enjoying the new paint job and higher ceilings. It feels more spacious. It’s great,” Wood said.
Family Place will host an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29. Children and their caregivers can see the new space, play games and learn more about VYFS programs.
For more information about the agency and its services, see VYFS.org.