Parent / Child Center
The Parent/Child Center provides a warm, welcoming place where families can connect with others in the same stage of life and find support in the challenging job of raising young children. Since it was founded by early childhood professionals in 1983, our program has been based on the idea that providing support and education at this early stage of family life helps to build a secure foundation for the future.
The morning drop-in program is open to families with children from birth to age 4; parents or caregivers stay on site while children are provided with safe, nurturing experiences under the care of experienced professional staff. The center is open to all, regardless of ability to pay or geographic location.
9:30-11:30 a.m. Tuesday & Thursday
VIEW current calendar
330 Laurel Avenue, Highland Park 60035
The center is located in the lower level of the Highland Park Presbyterian Church. Parking is available in the parking lot across the street from the church.
The Center has two well-equipped children’s playrooms, a room for parents and infants, a comfortable Parent Lounge, a large gym, a bathroom, and an office. The church and center are accessible to persons with disabilities. There is a ramp to the left of the front entrance to the church, and an elevator.
- Please park in the church parking lot at the northeast corner of Laurel and Linden. Parking is now allowed in 3 rows in the parking lot – only the west side, near Linden Avenue, is reserved for permit parking.
- If you have several young children or some other extenuating circumstance, it is legal to park on the south side of Laurel Avenue east of the handicapped spaces in front of the church; however, in response to neighbor requests, we ask that you use the parking lot whenever possible.
- Please do not use nearby driveways to turn around.
- Strollers may be parked in the upstairs side hallway, on the right before you come down to Family Network. If you wish to use the elevator, you may bring your stroller into the gym, and park downstairs in the Family Network hallway.
First two visits are free. Fee schedule is available
Terry Beem, Program Coordinator
847-433-0377, extension 307
For Your Toddler
Once your child is walking well, he or she can enjoy a first group experience in our Rainbow Room. Parents are welcome to stay and play, or help their child to explore the environment and gain independence under the supervision of our nurturing teachers. The Rainbow Room offers:
- Developmentally stimulating toys, books, and equipment
- Snack & Song Time
- Gym time (outdoor play during summer months)
- Opportunity for a gradual separation experience when you and your child are ready.
For Your Preschooler
Your child will make new friends and get ready for preschool with the guidance of our experienced teachers in the Sunshine Room. Parents are always welcome to stay with their child until s/he is comfortable in the room. The Sunshine Room offers:
- Art experiences
- Dramatic play
- Song & Story Time
- Sand & Water Play
- Gym Time (outdoor play during the summer months)
VIEW Sunshine Room Guidelines
And for you!
The Parent Lounge is your place for relaxation, companionship, and stimulation. Once your child is comfortable in his/her classroom, you are welcome to spend the morning meeting new or old friends, or just to have some time out for yourself.
The Parent Lounge offers:
- Coffee, tea & snacks
- Comfortable couches and chairs
- A project table and WiFi
- Parent library & resource files
- Professional speakers as well as informal discussions on a variety of parenting topics
- Monthly parent meetings with Program Coordinator
Thursday Dual Language Program
On Thursday drop-in mornings, we offer a unique multicultural experience for parents and children. Bilingual staff in each room facilitate activities in Spanish and English. Parents and children from different backgrounds have the opportunity to meet and learn about and from one another in a relaxed and fun way, through songs, art, stories and even cooking projects!
Special Family Events
- Quarterly Family Pizza Nights
- Summer Family Picnic
- Special Saturday Morning programs during winter months
- Children’s Concerts (Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and others)
Policies and Procedures VIEW
These guidelines were developed by our staff in order to provide a safe, healthy, positive experience for families who attend the Parent/Child Center. If you have any questions or concerns about the guidelines, please feel free to speak with Terry Beem, Program Coordinator.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP IN MAKING FAMILY NETWORK WORK!
Meet the Staff
Terry Beem, M.Ed., Program Coordinator, has been the Program Coordinator for the Parent/Child Center since 1997. She has a Master’s Degree in Child Development from the Erikson Institute, and has worked with young children and their families for over 40 years. She has a special interest in infant mental health issues, and has presented workshops on using children’s books.
Marilú Betancourt (Rainbow Room) has been a teacher in the Dual Language program since 2007. She acts as a liaison to the Spanish speaking families who attend the program, and has also been on the staff of Family Network’s Right From the Start program since 2004. Marilú has an associate degree in Tourism in her native country, Mexico.
Jessica Cowin joined the Sunshine Room team in spring 2016, and is also a teacher for our After School Activity Program (ASAP) at Oak Terrace School. Jessica is a graduate of DePaul University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree in Health Education there. She is also a published author!
Jessica Franke (Rainbow Room) – Jessica joined the Family Network staff in August, 2014. She has a Master’s Degree in Child Development from the Erikson Institute in Chicago, and did her graduate field placement at Family Network. Since then, she has worked as a developmental therapist, and now lives with her family in Glencoe. She also attended Family Network last year with her younger daughter!
Cathleen Hamili (Baby & Me Room) – has been a facilitator in the Baby & Me Room since 2002, and first came to the center as a parent. Cathleen has a Master’s Degree in Human Services from Loyola University and has had experience in counseling young women. She has been involved with the Dual Language Morning program since it began.
Leah Ostrar (Rainbow Room) – Leah joined the Family Network staff in January, 2014. She has a B.A. in Anthropology and Art from the University of New Mexico, and extensive experience in the early childhood field. She has worked with toddler s in a variety of child care programs, and also teaches ESL classes for adults. She is the owner/operator of Wild Cow Puppet Craft Parties, and brings her artistic talents to her work with children and families.
Miriam Vergara joined the Sunshine Room team in September 2015 as a bilingual teacher, and also is on the staff at ASAP, our After School Activity Program at Oak Terrace School. She is a graduate of Lake Forest College, and brings her knowledge of the Latino community as well her creative talents in art and dance to our programs!
Eileen Tarnoff, LCSW (Volunteer Social Worker) Eileen has over 41 years of clinical experience, and she continues her private practice with individuals, couples, and clinical consultation to professionals. She has worked as the social worker for Glencoe Children’s Center, as well as clinical director for SHALVA, a Jewish domestic violence agency. She served as the clinical coordinator for the graduate counseling program at National Louis University for many years.