DuPage Children's Museum offers free Family Access Open House events
The DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville has launched a series of free Family Access Open House events in partnership with local social service agencies and early childhood organizations.
These events are intended to reduce barriers for families who want to play and learn at the museum but may be facing economic, physical, social or developmental difficulties.
Since the end of April, events for early childhood collaboratives and home-visiting programs drew 430 adults and 580 children.
"The open house model encourages participating families to enjoy access to all of the DCM exhibit experiences, meet and form friendships with other families, and extend joyful discoveries through museum membership," said Katie Gullone, senior manager of Early Learning & Family Engagement.
To be able to reach families most in need, the museum is leveraging partnerships with local social service agencies and early childhood organizations.
Partnerships include Wheaton Warrenville Early Childhood Collaborative, Head Start Programs, West Chicago Elementary District 33 families receiving home-visiting services, Early Connections and Preschools for All program in Naperville Unit District 203.
Participants from Aurora include partner agencies Family Focus; Birth to Three Jumpstart, East Aurora Unit District 131; and VNA Healthcare.
The museum also offered a Family Access Open House Event Popup at the Addison Public Library in partnership with APPLE (Addison Partners for Play, Learning, and Education).
Many participants in the Family Access Open Houses are first-time museum guests.
"I am so grateful for our partnership with DCM and being able to have this experience for our families. It brings me so much joy to know that they were able to attend and have this time with their children," shared Annie Berhns, program director with Wheaton Warrenville Early Childhood Collaborative.
One enthusiastic parent shared, "I have never seen some of the materials like the ones at the museum before. They are 'wow' and so great to see how (my child) uses the blocks here."
In addition to the open house events, the museum offers Family Access Membership (FAM), full museum access at a deeply reduced fee, for families who qualify and/or are enrolled in a local social service agency or receiving state assistance for specialized early childhood programming.
One of the home visitors spoke to the power of access, inclusion, and belonging. "One of the participating families are refugees from Africa. With limited resources, this family would not be able to attend DCM without the Family Access programs. The FAM Membership will be life-changing for this family and their children's developmental needs."
"The opportunity for families to experience wonder and joy in a setting like the museum plants the seeds for future growth and flourishing," explains Katey Baldassano, West Chicago Elementary District 33 Birth to Three program administrator, who extended her sincere thanks for a wonderful experience at DCM. "At the museum, we received overwhelming feedback from families on how kind, helpful, patient and welcoming the staff of the museum were."
Family Access programming and memberships extend the impact of DuPage Children's Museum. They are one tool to help the museum realize its vision that all children thrive through access to extraordinary learning experiences.
Everything the museum does is framed through the lens of relationships, play, and joyful learning. Family Access Open House events are funded through a grant from the PNC Foundation and DCM is able to offer FAM memberships through community philanthropic support. To support expanded access to DuPage Children's Museum, visit dupagechildrens.org/give/.
About DuPage Children's Museum
The museum helps develop curiosity, creativity, thinking, and problem solving in young children through its mission to nurture joyful discovery and learning. Interactive exhibits and programs make learning fun for children and adults playing together. DCM reaches over 500,000 people annually; visitors hail from all 50 states and 575 ZIP codes in Illinois. The Museum's impact extends across cultural, financial, and educational boundaries well beyond the Chicago area. The museum endeavors to ensure that all children thrive through access to extraordinary learning experiences. The museum is located at 301 N. Washington St. in Naperville. For information, visit www.dupagechildrens.org or call (630) 637-8000.