News Search
News Archive
News Tags

Office of Children and Families to Hold First Ever Family Engagement Conference, “Thrive By Five”

November 6, 2019

Media Contacts:
Mark Miller, Administrator, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022
Erin Bonzon, Administrator, Office of Children and Families, 410-313-6371 (voice/relay) 

Giving parents tools to make the most of their child’s formative years

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – The Howard County Office of Children and Families announces its first ever parent engagement conference created specifically for Howard County parents of children birth to age five. Thrive By Five: A Family Institute Essential Parent Conference will take place on Saturday, November 16, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the North Laurel Community Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road, Laurel 20723. Admission is free.

“Educational success is built upon a solid foundation. As parents, we set the cornerstone long before our children take their first steps through the schoolhouse door,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “We establish their learning habits. We work to shape their unique skills. And, we show the love, support and enthusiasm they need to achieve and succeed. This conference has been created to offer parents some of the essential tools that will set their toddlers on a path for positive development.”

“Thrive By Five” refers to the fact that from birth to age 5, a child’s brain develops more than at any other time in life. By age 5, 85 percent of the brain has developed. Recognizing that early brain development has a lasting impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and life, the conference was created to give parents tools to make the most of these formative years. Parents will learn practical strategies and current research regarding how early learning changes a child’s brain and how everyday interactions with their child facilitates this growth.

“Parents are a child’s first and best teacher and their support is essential to a child’s lifelong learning and success,” said Erin Bonzon, administrator of the Office on Children and Families. “This is the first time we’ve offered a conference specifically for parents, and we hope those who attend will gain a greater understanding of just how important these early interactions are and feel energized, connected and inspired to help their children thrive.”  

Frank Kros, a nationally recognized early childhood expert, will deliver the keynote address focusing on how to provide children the best kind of emotional support; how to deliver effective brain stimulation; create and strengthen positive habits and; what to worry about and when to relax. Breakout sessions on parenting topics such as managing challenging behaviors in young children, dealing with stress, health and nutrition, mindfulness, and literacy development will be offered throughout the day. 

Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about community supports and resources such as the library system, early intervention, locating quality child care, eligibility for child care scholarships, college savings plan and more. 

Admission is free, but registration is required at Breakfast and lunch are provided, and limited childcare and language translation services will be available. To request a sign language interpreter or other accommodations to participate in the conference, call 410-313-1940 one week in advance.

The Howard County Family Institute is a parent education program of the Office of Children and Families, Department of Community Resources and Services. We support families by offering informational sessions, newsletters, and training workshops for parents on many topics.  For more information, visit or email