Auburn Family Resource Center moves from old Jeff's Home to Kent

Melanie Krevitz, program manager for the South King County Family Resource Center, stands outside its new digs at 212 Fifth Ave. S., west of Kent City Hall.  - Robert Whale, Auburn Reporter
Melanie Krevitz, program manager for the South King County Family Resource Center, stands outside its new digs at 212 Fifth Ave. S., west of Kent City Hall.
— image credit: Robert Whale, Auburn Reporter

Since the mid-'70s, the Auburn Family Resource Center has been at 4338 Auburn Way N., in that familiar, old brick building, which started out life during the Great Depression as Jeff's Home, an orphanage.

Last week, the center packed up and moved north.

On Monday, it reopened its doors at 212 5th Ave. S. in Kent, under a new name: the South King County Family Resource Center. Informally, that's just south of Mexico Lindo restaurant, across the street from Kent City Hall.

"Essentially, we've outgrown that space," said spokeswoman Janica Lockhart. "The Auburn building is quite old now, and we wanted to give our staff a little more room so we can serve more kids and families in South King County."

At its new site, the center continues to run Early Head Start and home-visiting programs among its services supporting school readiness. Early Head Start sends trained educators into homes and provides support services to parents with children up to 3 years old.

"Essentially, an educator comes into the home and works with them, gives them parenting tips, nutrition tips and also works on brain development, so it helps them with their kids," Lockhart said.

Another program, Parents as Teachers, preps kids for a successful future by helping parents from pregnancy through age 3. This home-visiting program includes play, parenting education and a range of resources.

"We also offer family support services, for example, parenting and nutritional classes. When we hold those classes, we typically offer childcare in the facility," Lockhart said.

Program manager Melanie Krevitz said the new digs include a family resource area, where parents may come in and wait with their children.

"We have a public health nurse in the building who meets with families and helps them get diapers and food donations, if we have them," Krevitz said. "There'll be any number of things going on. We're still getting set up, but we'll have a computer lab."

At the Auburn location, Auburn Family Resource Center's 40-45 staff members served 5,600 children and families in 2013, Lockhart said.

"We've really just hit capacity at what we can do at that location," Lockhart said. " Specifically, most of the families we serve are from Kent and Auburn. We've seen our numbers just increase in the wake of the economic downturn, where more families are turning to us in South King County.

"We are seeing more families looking for work, and they're reaching out more and more," Lockhart said. "It seems our numbers just keep growing, and as time has gone on, we keep getting more and more staff members."

The 80-year-old Auburn building is now on the market.

Orphaned in childhood, Richard Jeffs came to Washington Territory in the 1850s. Married to a woman of the Klickitat tribe, he was also a member of the convention that framed the constitution of Washington State in 1889. Retaining memories of his early life of deprivation, Jeffs provided for the establishment of an orphans' home in his will and worked with Children's Home Society of Washington to establish a receiving home on his property on Auburn Way North.

The Auburn Family Resource Center remodeled the building in the late 1980s. In its many years as an orphanage, the lower level was devoted to family space, and the children lived up stairs. In the late '80s, however, AFRC turned the upper level into office space, and the lower level became a childcare area, a classroom and front office space.

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