A Family Place opens in McMinnville, plans to expand to Newberg next year

The concept for A Family Place was introduced to Cynthia Easterday in the 1970s, by now Chief Judge of District Court of Oregon Ann Aiken.

It’s a relief nursery, which focuses on services for families to reduce childhood abuse and neglect.

“I didn’t realize there were so many (relief nurseries) in the state and we didn’t have any here,” said Easterday, who is the family law judge in Yamhill County after a long stint as a deputy district attorney. “I would talk with other judges who had them in their communities and they saw reductions in the number of children going into foster care services.”

So three years ago, Easterday and a few others started meeting to discuss the potential for a relief nursery in Yamhill County.

In October, A Family Place opened its doors in McMinnville with a grand opening celebration slated for Friday.

“We essentially do three core services,” said Director Cara Copeland.

First off there are therapeutic classrooms for children.

“Those are basically preschools on steroids,” she said.

The classrooms are intended to provide relief from a stressful environment for the children, and give the parents an opportunity to work on self-care.

“We also do home visits centered around helping parents learn how to create a nurturing environment for their child,” Copeland said. “The third thing we do is parental education, primarily post-partum depression prevention and intervention work.”

Easterday called the center a “one-stop shopping center,” because it offers all the services a family might need to become a strong and nurturing unit.

“Adverse childhood experiences have negative impact on children for the rest of that child’s life,” said Jordan Robinson of Lutheran Family Services. “If we can serve these families early we can help create a new generation of happier, healthier and more productive students, employees and citizens.”

One of the things Copeland said was really compelling when starting the center, was the 2011-2012 state data for child abuse and neglect.

“For our county, child abuse and neglect is 7 percent higher than the state rate,” she said. “We really felt like that shouldn’t happen and wanted to do what we can to lower that rate.”

Robinson said the best example to evaluate how the center is already impacting families is what a single mother with three children, who is a domestic violence victim, said about the classes.

‘“Being a single mother, this parenting class gave me substantial information and confidence to raise my child better ... I have already seen a difference in my children,’” he said.

Which Easterday said is really the goal: to help families stay together in a healthy environment.

“If I could be out of a job, because I do a lot of foster care cases, I would be OK with that,” she said. “Foster care is needed but we definitely know it’s a form of trauma.”

Right now, the center’s main location is in McMinnville, but they are already looking to expand to Newberg.

Copeland said they currently offer an emergency diaper bank, a clothing closet and a family night in Newberg, with the bank and closet also available in McMinnville.

Joyful Servant Lutheran Church donated a house on Villa Road for A Family Place to use as their Newberg center, which they hope to open next year after remodeling.

For more information about A Family Place, visit

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