The Family Institute

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).


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.
Who Should Attend: Parents and Guardians of children ages birth to eight years who want to improve their parenting skills and learn hands on ideas for raising a healthy, happy child.

When: Thursdays, Sept. 22, Oct. 6, Oct. 13, Nov 3, Nov 17
Time: 6:30- 8:30 p.m.
Location: East Columbia 50+ Center, 6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia, 21045 
Cost: $8 per class ($35 for complete five- part series)
Space is limited; pre-registration is required.
Register Online for The Family First Workshop Series
Questions? email

Family First: Exploring Childhood Stages of Development
A child passes through typical stages as he grows and learns. By knowing what to expect, you are better able to respond to new behaviors. 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 experience matters, and ways you can capitalize on these moments.

Family First: Keeping Kids Healthy
Learn how to choose healthy, age-appropriate 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 physically active in a variety of fun and easy ways.

Family First: Keeping Kids Safe
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.
Family First: Discipline and Communication Part 1
Set the stage for better behavior. 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 and consistency.
Family First: Discipline and Communication Part 2
Learn how to teach children self-control and problem-solving techniques that they can use in the moment. 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 to implement immediately!

There’s An App for That

Parents are invited to come hear about today’s newest apps and the way in which it’s changing the social media world for your child. Learn how to develop a toolkit for both you and your teen for responsible sharing of information BEFORE problems start. Parents will have an opportunity to hear from local teens and take part in an open discussion to answer individual questions. Find out why parents learn so much from our panel format workshops!

When: Thursday, September 29
Time: 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Location: Bain 50+ Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia, 21044
Cost: FREE! Space is limited; pre-registration recommended
Register online for There's An App for That
Register by Phone (voice/relay): 410-313-1440

How to be a GREAT Grandparent

A lot has changed in parenting since grandparents were parents! Learn the latest research based information to balance your tried and true skills with current best practices. Discuss your role as a grandparent verses being the parent. Discover ways to safeguard your home for infants and toddlers and gather important resources to help support your children in their new role as parents.
When: Thursday, October 6, 2016
Time: 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Bain 50+ Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia, MD 21044
Cost: FREE. Space is limited; pre-registration is required.
Who Should Attend: Grandparents
Register Online for How to be a GREAT Grandparent
Register By Phone (voice/relay): 410-313-1440

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 20, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Bain 50+ Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia MD 21044
Cost: FREE; Space is limited; pre-registration is required
Who Should Attend: Parents and Guardians Only
Register Online for Parent's Survival Guide For the Elementary Years
Register By Phone (voice/relay): 410-313-1440  

When: Monday, December 5, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: N. Laurel Community Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Rd, Laurel MD 20723
Cost: FREE; Space is limited; pre-registration is required
Who Should Attend: Parents and Guardians Only
Register Online for Parent's Survival Guide For the Elementary Years 
Register By Phone (voice/relay): 410-313-1440              

 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. If you need this publication in an alternate format, please call 410-313-1940 (voice/relay). Access previous issues of Parent Pages.

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!