CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio — A new childhood development program is offering free services to Northeast Ohio families through the Cuyahoga County Public Library.
The library isn't just for your parents or grandparents anymore, it's a cornerstone for the community.
It offers education, programming and services centered around building a family.
That's where the family spaces program comes in to provide parents with the kind of social networks and play groups crucial to positive development.
Jaden, 3, is always on the move.
"Oh no! The engine is broke down," Jaden said.
He's a lover of learning and playing.
"It’s amazing. Because I don’t have the energy I had 15 years ago. To know he’s getting it is reassuring and I don’t have to stress so much about it," his mother Brittany Black said.
He's found that at the library.
"He knows the days of the week, but he knows when Wednesday comes around because he’ll get up and pick out his close and be like ‘we’re going to the library,'" Black said.
Jaden enjoys socializing with other children through the program at the library.
"He has about 250 books at home. So he will take a book tonight to bed every night. Whether we read it or not he just sleeps with it. And then he’ll get up and be like ‘oh we forgot to read our book,’" Black said.
The program is being piloted through four different library branches including Garfield Heights.
"They’ve helped bring together kids' books and toys. It’s meant to be fun, get kids together. A little socialization. But also parents with the kids there also socializing and taking about issues that come up as you're trying to raise kids," Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said.
Each location includes family-centered staff, space and programming that recognizes the critical role that early learning and supportive communities play in a child's growth and development.
"You get them engaged in early play education and then prepare them for kindergarten. There’s a ton of research around kids who are prepared for kindergarten to do better in school, higher graduation rates," United Way of Greater Cleveland Vice President of Community Investment Ken Surratt said.
One of the more helpful things for new parents is the advice of others sharing similar experiences to ease any worries a parent may go through.
"It’s helpful because I thought I was the only parent who’s dealing with a picky three-year-old who doesn’t eat food until dinner time. Or he’ll go days without eating. But it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one. And I can meet other people," Black said.
The program helps kick-start a child's interest in reading and can be a building block for success down the road.
"Educational things on the walls. The floors. All of his toys, they teach him something. He’s very enthusiastic about ready," Black said.