Notes from Nick

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since voters approved the new Missoula County Public Library, the building that will house Families First Children’s Museum when it opens in late 2019. Over the course of this year there’s been a great deal of preparation taking place, but last week things really kicked into high gear.  For three days we met with a design firm to make plans for an especially exciting space for children. Joining us were folks from the library and SpectrUM, one of the partner organizations in the new building (along with MCAT).

If you haven’t heard, the idea for the new facility is built around the Scandinavian concept of a culture house. Essentially, a culture house is a one-stop-shop where various organizations come together “all under one roof” offering their services in a combined effort that meets local needs, builds community and improves life for its residents. Each culture house is different, and ours will be the first of its kind in the U.S. It will bring together social services programs through our offices, along with entertainment and educational opportunities offered through the museum, SpectrUM and the library itself, and it will have a distinctly Western Montana flavor. We’ll have a full floor in the building dedicated to children and families and we’ll work together on programming to create a seamless environment that is fun and engaging. Along with new classrooms and consultation space in a fresh, modern building, we’ll have entirely new exhibits.

We’re grateful for the opportunity to participate in this endeavor and excited about what it will mean for Families First Children’s Museum and the community. The planning process will continue this fall with construction expected to get underway in 2018. From time to time, we’ll update you on the plans and progress for the new facility.

In the meantime, we invite you to take part in A New Way to Library, a month-long series of conversations the library is initiating to talk about it mission and future. On Wednesday, Sept. 6, I’ll be joining Library Director Honore Bray, and MCAT’s Joel Baird for a presentation entitled A New Way to Serve: Putting the Public in Public Library. The presentation will be from 5:30 to 6:30 pm in the library’s large meeting room. For details about the other presentations taking place in this series, please click here.

Sincerely,

Nick Roberts
Executive Director

August 2, 2017

While many people are familiar with the children’s museum, perhaps just as many are surprised to learn that Families First also provides parent education. In fact, that’s the core of what we do. When our organization was founded in 1994, our goal was to provide information and support to all people raising children in western Montana. That continues to be our focus, and the museum enhances our ability to do so by providing parents and families with fun, educational exhibits and programs that promote learning through play. In keeping with our mission and history, it offers a hands-on environment that fosters positive parenting through shared interaction and discovery.

While our renovated museum space is now open, we still have some work to do in our parenting offices. We’re confident that when the two components of our organization are together, people will be better able to take advantage of both. For instance, while you’re here at the museum playing with your child, you may be more apt to stop by the parent resource center, which has been relocated to the hallway leading into the main museum gallery. Likewise, people taking our parenting classes will be able to put what they have learned in our classroom to practical use while playing with their child in the museum. Looking ahead, we’re planning even more ways the museum and our parenting programs can work together to benefit area families.

We are excited about our future and excited—although sorry to see them go—about the future plans of two of our current colleagues who will soon be leaving us to start new chapters in their lives. Dara Newman, LCPC, our parenting education director for nearly seven years, will be turning her attention to her growing private practice. Dara is well known and well-loved for her passion and compassion and has been a great asset to parents. Fortunately, she will continue to teach our Circle of Security classes in a contracted role.

Kashya Boretsky, joined us as a museum assistant in 2015, and last summer assumed the role of museum manager, bringing strong organizational skills to the position. Kashya will begin work as a teacher at the Pattee Canyon Outdoor School this September and will soon be finishing up the Montana Code School.  We wish her well and thank her for her many contributions to the museum! Both Kashya and Dara will be greatly missed.

We  are currently working to fill Dara’s and Kashya’s positions. If you or someone you know might be interested in applying, you can learn more about the jobs here.

Sincerely,

Nick Roberts
Executive Director

July 5, 2017

Families First Children’s Museum is growing!  Uniquely, our first step in this growth is to consolidate our space.  Since the museum moved into its current space, our parenting programs have been housed in a seperate location. Currently, they are located on a separate floor in the basement of the museum building.  Though close in proximity, we want to bring all of our programs even closer together and will be renovating the back museum space to hold our parenting education classes, consultations, and administrative offices.  This will give you even easier and more direct access to our entire scope of services.

As your new executive director, I see this move not just as an opportunity to synthesize our physical space for increased accessibility, but it also represents a commitment to reaffirm our museum environment as an extension of our parenting programs.  Our museum offers a special space in which parents and caretakers can build rapport with their kids, apply what they learn in our parenting classes and just have fun!

Don’t worry, our museum services are not lessening with this change.  We’re still going to celebrate your child’s birthday, provide you interactive exhibits for learning, and offer you enriching opportunities to strengthen relationships.  After a one week closure from July 24th-31st, we will be back and ready for you to keep bringing in your family, just as you are.  Come see us soon!

Sincerely,

Nick Roberts
Executive Director