Fair offers support and resources for families

T-R FILE PHOTO — The annual Healthy Family Fair, sponsored by Child Abuse Prevention Services in collaboration with Marshalltown Public Library and Marshall County Youth Shelter Services, will take place Saturday with around 25 health-related booths to provide information and activities related to supporting families with children.

Raising children isn’t easy, but Marshalltown has support.

The “Healthy Family Fair,” a free informational walkthrough event for families to learn more about community resources available to them, will take place from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday in the Marshalltown Public Library’s parking lot.

Hosted annually by Child Abuse Prevention Services, this year the event is provided in collaboration with the library and Marshall County Youth Social Services.

About 25 agencies will be available for families to ask questions and receive information about their services, including McFarland Clinic, Mid-Iowa Community Action, Disability Rights Iowa and more.

Child Abuse Prevention Services program supervisor Esmeralda Monroy said the fair’s purpose is to bring community partners together in one place at one time, providing an easy way for families to see what’s out there. She said many families are simply not aware of what is available to them, such as various mental health and family support services in the area.

“I think even people that have lived in Marshalltown for a long time probably are not aware of everything we really have to offer to support families with children,” Monroy said.

Within her own agency, she said Child Abuse Prevention Services works hard to remind families about their home visitation support services for families with a child younger than 5 or are expecting a child.

The fair helps agencies be more approachable, Monroy said. In previous years she has seen families who needed physical therapy or speech therapy for a child finally make the step in accepting those services once they were able to put a face to the name at the fair.

Monroy said she has seen a need for resources for Marshalltown families with children and is excited to be able to provide those families with a connection to those resources.

“Parenting is hard, and any support services that can be offered is always good,” she said. “But I think when you combine that with the pandemic and a community that has had two major natural disasters in the last couple of years, that really creates a need within the community for everyone. But I think particularly for families with children, they are needing connection and needing to be supported by their community.”

Monroy said one of the most common inquiries they get from families at the fairs is about social opportunities for children.

“So it worked really well for us to partner with the public library this year because they offer so much for families, and for free,” she said.

Marshalltown Public Library youth services director Joa LaVille said she’s excited to collaborate with local organizations to provide the fair.

“It’s always a pleasure to partner with the other organizations in the community, there’s just a lot of intersection in missions that we all have, so that’s a happy thing when you can see the collaboration going on,” she said.

Along with agencies providing support services, some family fun is also to be had at the Healthy Family Fair.

The Marshalltown Police Department and Fire Department will have vehicles at the event for kids to explore. Free activities for kids to take home for some grab-and-go fun will be available. The juggling costumed character “William and Blackjack the Dragon,” a local favorite, will attend the fair to entertain the kids.

The COVID-19 vaccine will also be available with no appointment necessary. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available for those 18 and older and the Pfizer vaccine will be available for children 12 and older.

Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or tbabcock@timesrepublican.com.


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