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Sherri Richards, Published November 14 2013

5 resources for Fargo-Moorhead parents

FARGO – It can feel lonely wading into the waters of parenting.

A lot of resources are available to parents of young children, however.

For example, infant safety and health information is just a text away thanks to text4baby, a national program now being promoted locally by the North Dakota Chapter of the March of Dimes and the state Department of Health.

Pregnant women and new moms receive about three free text messages a week by texting BABY to 511411.

“The research is showing its effective. We really came to a point in North Dakota that we really want to promote this and let people know about it,” says Kim Mertz, director of the state Health Department’s Division of Family Health.

Today we highlight five parent resources people new to Fargo-Moorhead or new to parenting should know.

These barely scratch the surface, though. The North Dakota departments of Health and of Human Services created a 178-page directory of services available to families and agencies. It’s available at www.ndhealth.gov/familyhealth.

More resources may be available through your regional parent resource office, offered by both the North Dakota State University Extension Service and University of Minnesota Extension.

1. Imagination Library

Kids ages 0 to 5 in Cass and Clay counties can receive one free book each month through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, administered locally by United Way of Cass-Clay.

The age-appropriate books arrive in the mail addressed to the child.

In September, 8,866 local children received a book from the United Way, according to Kristina Hein, marketing and brand management director.

Register your child at www.unitedwaycassclay.org or call (701) 237-5050 to request a form.

2. Child Care Aware

Previously known as Child Care Resource and Referral, Child Care Aware helps connect North Dakota and Minnesota parents and child care providers.

Parents can do a customized search online for providers who have openings.

The organization also has available for parents information on questions to ask providers, types of child care settings, licensing rules, helping your child adjust, staying healthy, building a partnership with your provider, and paying for child care.

Both states offer financial assistance for families, depending on income.

Visit www.lakesandprairies.net and click on Child Care Aware, or call (218) 299-7026.

3. Right Track

All North Dakota children ages 0 to 3 are eligible to receive free in-home developmental screenings through Right Track, a North Dakota Department of Human Services program.

The program is designed to support all parents with young children, providing information on child growth and development, ideas for stimulate development, and referrals to other organizations.

For more information, call (701) 793-3722 or visit https://righttrack5.org.

Minnesota parents can receive similar information and resources through the state’s Help Me Grow system. Call (866) 693-4769 or visit www.mnparentsknow.info.

4. Safety Shoppe

Home to Safe Kids Fargo-Moorhead, the Safety Shoppe is a permanent, year-round location where parents can have their children’s car seats inspected.

It’s an important check, as more than 70 percent of car seats are used incorrectly, says April Rabideaux, Safe Kids coordinator.

Certified technicians make sure the seat is installed properly and fits the child. Car seat checks are available 1:30 to 5 p.m. Thursdays by appointment only. Call (701) 234-5570.

The Safety Shoppe, 601 39th St. N., Fargo, also offers free bike helmet fittings and loans out safety-themed curriculum. Safety supplies for sale, such as life jackets, smoke detectors, anti-tip furniture straps and pinch guards. Bike helmets are available for only $10. These services are available on Thursday afternoons as well as 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays.

5. Early Childhood Family Education

Parents and their babies, toddlers and preschoolers can enroll in fun, educational classes through Early Childhood Family Education, or ECFE, a Community Education program through Moorhead Area Public Schools.

A typical class includes play time, songs and games together. Children then have a snack and continue supervised play while parents discuss child development, parenting techniques and family issues with a licensed parent facilitator.

ECFE classes, held at the Probstfield Center for Education, 2410 14th St. S., Moorhead, provide tremendous support for parents through social interaction, says Lauri Winterfeldt community education director.

Classes are open to families from all surrounding communities. The cost for classes is about $4 per hour, though Moorhead families pay a reduced rate and are eligible for a sliding fee scale. Sibling care is available.

ECFE also offers a parent lending library, home visit program and infant massage visits.

For information, go to

www.moorheadschools.org and under “Schools,” click on Early Childhood Family Education. To register for a class, call (218) 284-3400.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556