The Family Institute

The Family Institute A parent education program

The Howard County Family Institute is a parent education program of the Office of Children and Families, Department of Community Resources and Services. We offer informational sessions and training workshops for parents on many topics, including child development, positive discipline, finding resources, and adolescent issues. Click here to view some of the workshops we have offered. To suggest topics for future workshops or to learn more, please email or call 410-313-1940 (voice/relay). 


Elementary School Age

Parent's Survival Guide For the Elementary Years

Changes occur with your child as they grow and develop in the elementary school years. Children fluctuate between independence and dependence and the combination can bring a wide range of behavior issues. 
Attend this workshop to help understand how to help your 5 to 12 year old:
• Set the stage to create positive situations for empowerment and pride
• Develop consequences that work
• Gain strategies to handle oppositional behaviors
• Learn ways to develop better homework habits

When:    Thursday, October 25, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Stevens Forest Elementary, 6045 Stevens Forest Rd, Columbia
Cost: FREE! 
Who Should Attend: Parents and Guardians
Questions: Email or call (voice/relay): 410-313-1940



Powerful Tools for Caregivers for the Parents of Children with Disabilities

Are you the parent of a child with disabilities? We are excited to offer Powerful Tools for Caregivers (PTC), an evidence-based program designed with the parent's well-being in mind.  

This six-week series of 2 hour classes offers parents opportunities to explore a variety of self-care tools in a supportive environment, designed to help you:

  • reduce personal stress
  • change negative self-talk
  • communicate more effectively in challenging situations
  • manage your emotions
  • make tough caregiver decisions

If you are the parent of a child with disabilities, we encourage you to register today! Our goal is to improve the lives of parents (and ultimately their children) through outreach, conversation, training, and resources.

When: January 15 through February 19 (six consecutive Tuesdays) from 6-8 pm

Location: at the Ellicott City 50+ Center

Cost:  $30, fee covers all materials

Who Should Attend? Parents/Caregivers of children with disabilities

For more information or to register, contact Kathy Wehr at 410-313-5955 or

View the flyer for PTC for Parents of Children with Disabilities




Family First Workshop Series

Join the Howard County Family Institute for a special series designed for parents and guardians raising children from birth to age eight. Learn about child development, how to encourage self-esteem and good behavior, positive guidance and discipline, and how to keep children safe and healthy. Each class, offered in an interactive group format, will include practical tips and advice for handling common situations, as well as hands-on activities.  Participants who complete all five classes can receive a Certificate of Completion upon request.
Child Care is not provided                       

Be a Brain Builder: Know as They Grow (Saturday, October 27 • 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.)
Scientists have made discoveries about how a child's earliest experiences affect the way the brain is organized. By knowing what to expect as a child passes through typical stages, you are better able to respond to new behaviors and expand their learning experiences to build a strong foundation. Explore the ages and stages of child development in several areas such as cognitive, social-emotional, motor and language. Learn about the latest brain research, why early experiences matter and how your interaction with your child during their early years can have an impact on their learning abilities in the future.

Keeping Kids Healthy and Happy (Saturday, October 27 • 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.)
Learn how to choose healthy snacks, meals and beverages for children. Discuss common eating concerns such as picky eaters or refusal to eat. Explore nutrition labels and healthy eating on a budget. Learn more about the importance of exercise and how you can keep children active in a variety of fun and easy ways.

Keeping Kids Safe (Saturday, October 27 • 12:45 – 2:15 p.m.)
Discuss safety-proofing your home for different ages; who to contact in an emergency, car seat safety, and tips on how to protect your child from abuse. Learn ways to cope with your own stress and how to teach children relaxation techniques and stress relief. 

Discipline and Communication (Saturday, November 3 • 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)
Set the stage for better behavior. Become familiar with temperament types and learn how to use this information to individualize your interactions with your child. Learn how to proactively prevent misbehavior by preparing your home and routine to encourage success. Discuss ways to effectively communicate with your child and the importance of structure, consistency and self-esteem to help build a growth mind set.
Then move on to learn how to teach children self-control and problem-solving techniques that they can use in the moment of behavior problems. Establish rules and logical consequences for misbehavior that are developmentally appropriate. Discuss behavior charts and a variety of other options to encourage behaviors that you want to see. Leave with practical strategies and tools to implement immediately!

When: Saturdays, Fall 2018
Location: Howard County Office of Children and Families, 9830 Patuxent Woods Dr., Columbia, MD 21046            
Cost: $8 per class ($35 for complete five-part series)
Who Should Attend: Any parent, grandparent or caregiver who wants to improve their parenting skills and learn hands on ideas for raising a healthy, happy child ages birth to eight.
Register online for the Family First Series 
Register By Phone (voice/relay): 410-313-1940




 To request a sign language interpreter or other accommodation to attend a workshop, call 410-313-1940 (voice/relay) at least one week in advance.




Parent Pages Newsletter

Parent Pages is a family newsletter published by the Howard County Office of Children and Families. Each quarterly issue features news and tips from many of the programs in our office, including the Local Children's Board, Parents as Teachers, the CARE Center, Healthy Kids, and more. Parent Pages is a part of the Howard County Family Institute, an education and community outreach program. View the current issue, if you need this publication in an alternate format, please call 410-313-1940 (voice/relay). Would you like to be notified of upcoming Family Institute workshops? Sign-Up to receive Parent Pages e-newsletter and updates.


The Office of Children and Families is a division of the Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services. We post updates on training classes, information on upcoming events, and reminders about parent workshops on the Community Resources and Services Facebook page. You'll also find posts from other divisions of Community Resources and Services; The Office on Aging and Independence, Disabilities Services, and Consumer Protection. We hope you'll "like" us!