As a valuable member/supporter of the Family Connections organization, we wanted to share an important update regarding the space in our Coventry location.  Due to COVID-19, Family Connections is winding down our operations in the Coventry Building earlier than the initially announced date of 12/31/20.   As you know, we have had to close our family playroom and large motor room due to COVID-19 and do not expect to be able to resume in-person contact this fall. We have made this choice given our inability to host families according to the newest/latest guidelines.

As we have said before, our commitment to programming in Cleveland Heights-University Heights remains as strong as ever.   We have moved our services to virtual platforms where possible; and those include Baby & Me, Music with Marisa, SPARK home visiting services and Family School Connection programming.   When it is safe to resume in-person, indoor family gatherings, we will reopen Little Heights for expanded hours and days of the week.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Family Connections Board of Directors

A Message from Family Connections of Northeast Ohio

Family Connections of Northeast Ohio condemns the senseless, violent death  of George Floyd.  We decry the legacy and ongoing dynamic of racial hatred that continues to shape our nation.  The mission of Family Connections of Northeast Ohio is to engage families with young children to nurture social connections, enhance child development and improve school readiness.   We do everything we can to build, support and encourage healthy families.   This task is complicated, though, by the violence and racism that Black families and people of color have long endured.   Current events bring into sharper focus the need for the work we do.  We recognize that these events take an incalculable toll on the families we work with.


Our work – strengthening families with young children – is guided by the Standards of Quality for Family Strengthening and Support that include the concept of racial equity and diversity.  We strive to support families so that they grow with the skills, knowledge and attitudes to have a head start on pursuing their own goals.  We believe that healthy families are the building blocks of productive communities, and ultimately a strong nation, but that this cannot be achieved without addressing and dismantling racism.  That is why we are committed to working together with our Board of Directors, staff and valued community partners, to look within and without to end systemic racism.



Andrew Bouthiliet, Board President and Joanne Federman, Executive Director

Mission Statement

Family Connections engages families with young children to nurture social connections, enhance child development and improve school readiness.

Family Connections of Northeast Ohio has been helping families grow stronger together for over 35 years by providing parenting support and educational opportunities for families with children from birth through age 6. We offer year-round, free and low cost programs and services for families and children to learn and play together.

Early Literacy

Our family literacy playrooms provide a dedicated time for parents and caregivers to play with their children in literacy-rich environments. These playrooms demonstrate how simple, interactive play, conversation, and everyday activities can make all the difference for school readiness.

Parent Support

We provide all parents with the opportunity to cultivate relationships, within and between families, and build connections. Whether it be in our playrooms, in the classrooms, or in homes, Family Connections programs link parents to community resources. We also offer information on child development and parenting.

School Readiness

Family Connections works with families during the critical transition into kindergarten, follows them through their kindergarten experience, and leads them towards success into first grade. Meeting families where they are, our programs provide opportunities for parents and children to engage in activities together that strengthen literacy, and help with developing reading, math, and social skills.

Standards of Quality for Family Strengthening & Support

The Standards of Quality for Family Strengthening & Support were issued by the California Network of Family Strengthening Networks (CNFSN) in 2012, and adopted by the National Family Support Network in 2013. They are the first and only standards organization in the country to integrate and implement the Principles of Family Support Practice with the Strengthening Families Frameworks and its research-based evidence-informed 5 Protective Factors. Applying these standards will help ensure that families are supported and strengthened through quality practice.

The Standards are organized in five sections with 17 standards, each with minimum and high-quality indicators and implementation examples:

  • Family Centeredness
  • Family Strengthening
  • Embracing Diversity
  • Community Building
  • Evaluation

Family Connections is certified in The Standards of Quality for Family Strengthening & Support and has one of only two trained trainers in the state of Ohio. We use these Standards with each of our programs to better serve our families and participants.

Our History – A History of Partnerships

Heights Parent Center

Two educators in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District – Carolyn Grossman and Barbara Soules – conceived of the Heights Parent Center after being inspired by Dr. Burton White’s study of the critical years from birth to three years. They founded Heights Parent Center in 1982, and dedicated the Center’s mission to coaching parents on how to promote learning by interacting with their children.

The Center’s goals were to:

  • Provide parents with information on child development and child rearing techniques
  • Screen infants to detect potential barriers to learning
  • Offer a physical location where parents of young children could meet, share experiences, and access resources
  • Promote clear and comfortable communication between parents, children, and teachers

Family Connections (formerly Shaker Family Center)

Shaker Family Center was formed in 1991, as a result of a community-wide task force in Shaker Heights that came together to:

  • Explore the options for the former Sussex Elementary School building
  • Analyze the supply and demand for early childhood programs and preschools in the Shaker Heights City School District.

After a year-long study, the task force’s recommendation, subsequently accepted by the City and School officials, was to form a separate, nonprofit family resource center. This resource center was known as Shaker Family Center.   The Center’s purpose was to manage and coordinate a multi-tenant, early childhood family center as well as develop programming for parents and children.   The Center began offering off-site programming in 1993.

Family Connections of Northeast Ohio

In 2010, two well-respected, family support organizations, Heights Parent Center and Family Connections, joined together. United as one organization, Family Connections of Northeast Ohio now offers expand services and reaches more families. Family Connections of Northeast Ohio (Family Connections) operates on the belief that strong families build strong communities.

We now have multiple locations where we provide various programs and services. On-site programs and activities are located in both the Shaker Family Center in Shaker Heights and in the Coventry Building in Cleveland Heights. Off-site community partner programs include public schools and libraries.