Megan Wallgren | Lehi Free Press
Families in North Utah County will soon have a new ally. The Family Support Center of Utah, which goes by Family Haven, will open a new location in Lehi.
Family Haven’s mission is “to build a community of healthy, happy individuals and families through education and the prevention and treatment of child abuse, trauma, and other personal and family concerns.”
The Orem-based non-profit has been around for 40 years. With the explosion of growth in Utah County, the need for the non-profit’s services has also grown. They currently serve nearly 12,000 individuals each year.
“The population of Utah County is unique in having a lot of young kids and families, but the north county is very underserved with family services,” said executive director Janelle Christensen. “When families aren’t supported and getting the help they need, it leads to substance abuse, homelessness, domestic violence and crime.” The inverse is also true. “When trauma is addressed early on, families experience positive results in every area of their lives,” she said.
Family Haven chose the Lehi location because it is very accessible to 1-15 and can serve many cities. They are taking over the old BeeHive Assisted Living Home at 322 N and 2375 W. They plan to open the building to some services starting in August of this year and for full services in the fall of 2024.
Family Haven is fundraising to make needed remodeling to the location. Christensen said every $1 invested in Family Haven delivers services that save taxpayers $3.65 in government-provided services later.
Family Haven’s services fall into four categories: the nursery, parenting classes, prevention education and clinical therapy.
The nursery provides a free, 24/7 home-like environment for children ages 11 and under whose families need support during stressful situations. Families often use the services during medical emergencies, doctor appointments, or job interviews. Parents can schedule 3-hour periods beforehand or call and receive childcare within 30 minutes during an emergency.
The nursery is also available for parents who need a break from the stresses of life. One parent told Christensen, “When I came here, I was drowning. Because I got a break, I was able to parent differently. Because I parent differently, the kids behave differently.”
Family Haven offers parenting classes in group or individual settings to give parents tools to build strong relationships and foundations. “We add tools to people’s toolboxes. We want to change those generational patterns. Some parents do things a certain way because they know nothing else. With tools, they can make a choice instead of just doing what’s familiar,” said Christensen.
Their education includes working to prevent child abuse through age-appropriate no-cost presentations in schools and community groups. For younger children, the focus is body safety. For middle and high school groups, it also includes components of neglect, emotional abuse and dating violence. Educators from Family Haven provide resources for abuse, mental health care, and suicide prevention. Their educators travel all over the valley. Schools, teachers, or other groups may request a presentation on the group’s website.
Family Haven also houses licensed therapists and a clinical intern at their Orem location for family and individual counseling for teens, adults, couples and families whose lives have been affected by child abuse, trauma or family issues. The therapy includes various evidence-based methods like play therapy, sand tray therapy, art therapy, and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.
Every program is free and doesn’t have any eligibility requirements. Family Haven can be contacted by phone or on their website www.family-haven.org
As a non-profit, Family Haven couldn’t exist without donations and volunteers. The group is raising money to modify the Lehi building for an August opening. They must raise $300,000 by August 31 and seek corporate and private donations. Donations may also be made on the website.
Family Haven welcomes volunteers to help with their programs. “We love volunteers. We couldn’t function without them,” said Christensen. They utilize volunteers both in individual and one-time group capacities. Ongoing volunteers must pass a background check and receive child behavior and trauma sensitivity training.
Those interested may sign up to volunteer or donate at www.family-haven.org.
Christensen feels family support is one of the most rewarding career paths. “It doesn’t just impact the family while they’re here. It changes the family dynamics and relationships forever,” said Christiansen. “I’ve seen the way that families are changed forever. The trajectory is changed for generations.”