JACKSON, MISS– When the giant scissors separated the pieces of red and green ribbon at the Families First For Mississippi Jackson office on Tuesday, it symbolized the tying together of various services across the state to the people who need them the most.
Dr. Nancy New, Executive Director of the Mississippi Community Education Center said the ribbon cutting represented expansion.
“Families First.. reaches into communities and organizations across the state,” said Dr. New. “Businesses, schools, churches.. where we offer different types of training and services such as parenting education, job readiness, literacy for k-12, and GED services.”
Dr. New added that Families First is not intended to take away from those services already in place in communities across the state. Instead, they aim to connect the dots between those services.
“We don’t have it all, and we don’t have all the answers,” said Dr. New. “But we can help you find the answers.”
Families First resource centers provide many services and educational programs, from job readiness, literacy, and parenting education.
“Families First is a clearinghouse of services,” said Dr. New. “It is to expand and connect people to direct services.”
Family has been the centerpiece of the campaign not just for the resource centers, but to Governor Phil Bryant and First Lady Deborah Bryant.
“I grew up in a family with a mother,” said First Lady Bryant. “She believed in doing the right thing. We had that growing up. But some of these children don’t have that opportunity. This is for them.”
The Department of Human Services has supported Families First to reach out across the state to address family issues statewide.
“It’s important for us to look at a family holistically,” said Mississippi Department of Human Services Executive Director John Davis. “It’s multi-generational..We have to make sure we help an individual find sustainable work.. but also look at the youth in the home and help them become successful as well.”
In the Families First resource center in Jackson, there are several modules spread throughout the facility to simulate anything from welding to the first job interview, as well as different scenarios that could be life-threatening for an infant, as seen below:
Other services include a computer lab for education and job application, a library of family education information and children’s books, a module that teaches one how to properly set a table, and a career closet.
“In the career closet,” said Bob Clay with Families First. “You could come here after you’ve gone through getting ready for a job interview, and get the clothes you need for your interview, to make a good first impression.”
Families First already has six offices in Mississippi, with plans for three to open soon.