Family Resource Center

by Janice Maddox

Did You Know About These Local Services?


The family resource center in Loyalton has been quietly and humbly going about the business of addressing the needs of Sierra County residents for several years.  The resource center, formally known as “High Sierra’s Family Services” is operated by our local Sierra County Child Abuse Council (SCCAC). While most if not all counties in California have a Child Abuse Prevention Council, our local council is exceptional for having been in existence continuously since 1987. 

The Council is not a county entity, run by the county, but has “Sierra County” in its title to indicate it serves Sierra County residents. High Sierra’s Family Services is a non-profit located in a cozy house on Main Street in Loyalton.  Their budget is small and their staff is small, yet they do amazing things.

Disclaimer: This writer is a volunteer member of the Board of Directors for the Sierra County Child Abuse Council.

What got my attention at a recent play group facilitated by the center was not all the great toys and the children who were clearly having a great time (although that was fun). What got my attention was the interaction among the parents of the children in the group. Parents who may not normally have much opportunity to interact with other parents of pre-school aged children appeared to be enjoying the opportunity to connect with each other, joking, and sharing information.

These play groups for children aged zero to five are held at the resource center every week on Friday from 11:00 until 12:30 a.m. Parents and their children are welcome to drop by and join the group.

High Sierra’s Family Services has provided individual, group, and home-based parenting guidance for many local parents.

Recently the center has provided a beginner’s cooking class with both adult and middle-school youth participants, and a men’s cooking class.  As with many of the other programs, learning to cook good food economically was only part of the benefit. The other was a community-based opportunity to connect with others and to socialize.

In response to identified county needs on multiple levels, such as the need for more youth exposure to and opportunities for participation in arts programs, the center has provided and is planning more youth art and drama programs. Art and drama activities have included multiple art activities, plays put on by local youth and the first ever local youth-driven and High Sierra’s Family Services facilitated April Fool’s Day parade.

The High Sierra’s Family Services has been called upon to assist families who have fallen on temporary hard times with utilities and other basic needs. This has been essential for some families who needed a temporary hand-up during these recessionary times, but didn’t qualify for assistance through the county. The center’s director Carolyn Widman said they have stepped in to assist families when “there is too much month at the end of the money.” 

Services provided by High Sierra’s Family Services are based on the needs of the community, and may vary.  Services are also provided based on availability of funding.  They are always available to provide guidance. If you have a need, they are a good place to start.

Other services that have been provided recently or are currently being provided include the following:

ü  Supervision of child visitation when the court has ordered that visits between the child and a parent or parents be supervised. The center stepped in to meet that need so children could see their parent or parents when nobody else was available to provide the service.

ü  Computer Internet Access.

ü  The Rainbow Program helps identify disabilities in children ages zero to three. The course of a disability can be changed and the prognosis is greatly improved if a disability is identified early and intervention is provided during the zero to three age range.

ü  The center provides helmets and car seats for children, to help keep them safe. They help families find the right size helmet and car seat, and provide guidance on the proper use of car seats.

ü  A child-friendly forensic interviewing room is available so that trained and sensitive investigators can talk with a child that may have been the victim of a crime in a non-threatening setting. When the need arises, the interview is taped by a camera that is not visible to the child, so the child does not have to tell their story over and over to different entities that may be involved. This alleviates concerns of coercion or inappropriate interviewing techniques.

I am probably leaving something out. There may be something they notice the community needs tomorrow, and they will do their best to figure out how to meet that need, and that could result in an entirely new service.

High Sierra’s Family Services is located at 315 Main Street, in Loyalton. They are generally open from 9:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., although this is subject to staff availability. Their phone number is 993-1110.

If you want to participate in a good cause, the center needs volunteers to assist with programs and assistance with catching up on minor building maintenance, such as applying stain to the under-side of the building eves. Donations are always appreciated.

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