The Family Place: A Place for Learning and Healing

This entry was posted on Nov 10, 2015 by Charlotte Bell.
The Family Place

“You’ve got to have training for every job in the universe except for parenting,” says Esterlee Molyneux. “That’s where we come in. We help parents build on their skills, so that they have a strong foundation.”

Esterlee is the executive director of The Family Place, a facility that’s part of a network of 13 child and family support centers throughout Utah. The Family Place’s mission is twofold: building stronger families and protecting children. Their mission is accomplished through the center’s two arms: The Family Place and the Starfish Children’s Shelter. In the past year, the two arms combined have served 8,965 children and adults.

The Family Place offers workshops on important family foundations such as parenting, step families, anger management, education for children in social/emotional skills, and professional therapy focusing on child abuse and other types of victimization. Counselors at The Family Place work with children and adults who struggle with anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges.

The Family Place also includes the Kids Place, which provides care for children 11 and under, 24/7, when parents encounter emergency situations. “For example, a mother dropped off her kids when she had an attack of appendicitis and had to go to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy,” said Esterlee. “Another set of parents had a little boy with leukemia. We took care of their other children while they drove him to Salt Lake City for treatment.”

The center also provides “planned care,” because sometimes parents need a little extra help. When parents need to go shopping, have some time off from parenting, go to counseling, or take a nap, The Family Place provides trustworthy care for their kids.

In the past year, the Starfish Children’s Shelter provided a safe haven for 67 children ages 11 and under who were removed from their homes because of neglect or abuse. The shelter houses separate bedrooms for girls and boys, and has a full kitchen. While the children are cared for in the shelter, counselors work with parents to give them skills to stop the patterns of abuse and neglect.

“I’ve learned that all parents truly love their kids,” says Esterlee. “There’s just a small percentage of parents that don’t have the skills to deal with the stresses of parenting. Many of these parents grew up with parents whose skills were lacking. They come to the center and say they want to change the pattern of unskillful parenting in this generation. We give parents new tools that help their relationships with each other and with their kids to become much stronger, things like sending their kids to time out instead of harming them. It’s so hard to change these generational patterns. But these parents are committed. I find them to be just remarkable.”

Esterlee has worked at The Family Place for 20 years—10 years as Executive Director. “There’s something about coming here. It’s the hardest thing I do in my life. But to see the children and families make positive changes is incredible. It’s really privilege to be a part of this organization.”

From now through the end of December, a percentage of your purchases from Hugger Mugger will go to support The Family Place and the Starfish Children’s Shelter. We are proud to support the wonderful work of this wonderful organization.


About Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. Her third book is titled Hip-Healthy Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Guide to Protecting the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Pain (Shambhala Publications). She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.

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