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).



Friendship Skills 2 Friendship Skills 3


Friendship Skills for School and Life Success

Social skills are at the top of the list of important skills for school success. Parents can have a strong impact on their children’s social/emotional development to help their children learn positive interpersonal skills that breed both success in developing friendships as well as the “side effect” of stronger academic skills.  Learn ways to intentionally impart this critical school and life skill.

• Understand how your child can make friends, build friendships and solve friendship conflicts.  

• Become aware of friendship tools and resources available to help your child. 

• Help children navigate peer pressure and build stronger self-esteem skills.

When: Wednesday, April 24; 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Where: Guilford Elementary School, 7335 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia

Cost: FREE

Register Online for Friendship Skills for School and Life Success


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 (not CEU) upon request.                   

Be a Brain Builder: Know as They Grow (Saturday, May 11 • 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, May 11 • 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, May 11 • 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, May 18 • 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.) Double session

Part 1: 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. 

Part 2: 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, May 11 & May 18, 2019 

Location: Howard County Office of Children and Families, 9830 Patuxent Woods Dr., Columbia 21046             

Cost: $10 per class ($40 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 Workshop Series 

By Phone (voice/relay): 410-313-1442



Parents, early educators and community leaders are invited to a free showing of Resilience, a powerful documentary that explores the profound long-term effects of toxic stress, a condition that affects many young children in our community. Researchers have recently discovered this dangerous biological syndrome caused by abuse and neglect during childhood that correlates to adult health problems such as heart disease, cancer and obesity. Resilience discusses the groundbreaking Adverse Childhood experience study (ACES) and how these early experiences affect the health and well-being of families. An interactive discussion after screening the film will center on the scientific data, offer solutions to help children deal with and overcome the effects of toxic stress and discover ways to increase their resilience.

When: Wednesday, May 22, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.     
Time: Doors open at 6:30 p.m. / Film begins at 7:00                                       
Where: Howard County Library, Elkridge Branch
Belmont/Hockley Rooms. 6540 Washington Blvd., Elkridge 21075
Cost: FREE!

Register for Resilience The Biology of Stress & The Science of Hope Screening and Discussion
To request accommodations to attend or need this in an alternate format, call at least one week in advance at 
410- 313-1940 or email:


Young Girl Lying Face Down on Ground

Behavior Basics and Managing Meltdowns

Do tantrums, power struggles and misbehavior make daily life difficult in your household? 

Social Emotional Foundations of Early Learning (SEFEL) is a comprehensive, research based approach that considers all the factors that impact a child and family. Learn how to teach your child new skills to replace challenging behaviors. Learn how to set the stage to decrease negative behaviors from happening in the first place and what to do when they do occur. Leave this 3-part workshop with skills and resources that you can use immediately that will help you feel more confident in your parenting.

When: 3 Tuesdays; May 28, June 4 and 11

Time: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Location: Howard County Office of Children and Families, 9830 Patuxent Woods Dr. Columbia, MD 21046 

Cost: $20

Who Should Attend: Parents, Grandparents & anyone involved with children ages 1-6

Register Online for Behavior Basics and Managing Meltdowns

By Phone (voice/relay): 410-313-1442


 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!