Get to Know: Families CAN!

Navigating parenthood and caring for a child isn’t simple, but the journey can be easier.  Every parent wants to raise children to the best of their abilities, and Families CAN! at Midcoast Maine Community Action (MCCA) is here to help.

Families CAN! offers enrichment opportunities to parents, caregivers, and educators about topics affecting families with children from birth through the teen years. The program offers classes designed for any parent or caregiver who wants to discover their strengths, deepen bonds with the young people in their lives, and learn practical, empowering ways to help children grow and learn.

“We help build the social safety net for families,” says Theresa Dow, Director of Community Services at MMCA, which includes the Families CAN! program. “The program offers a place where families can connect and relate without judgment about parenting goals and struggles. The relationships that develop are as important as anything we teach.”

In some cases, parents or caregivers are directed to Families CAN! courses by a court after justice involvement as a way to strengthen their skills. In others, parents simply want to learn more about topics like effective discipline, building character and self-esteem, dealing with feelings, and improving communication. “There’s real diversity in terms of who participates,” says Dawn Flagg, TITLE, “but what unites everyone is a desire to be a better parent.”

There are free classes geared toward fathers and male caregivers, for families affected by substance use, for blended families, and for families divorcing or separating. Every class is grounded in an award-winning, evidence-based model designed to help families build strong foundations.  Professionals working with children can also learn about protective factors, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and complete mandated reporter training.

Upcoming classes held over Zoom include:

Active Parenting for Ages 5-12
February 22 – March 8, 2021: Mondays
or February 23 – March 9, 2021: Tuesdays from 9:00 – 11:00 am
or April 27 – May 11, 2021: Tuesdays from 9:00 – 11:00 am

Active Parenting – Crossroads: Divorce or Separation – 2 session program
Wednesdays from  6:00 – 8:00 pm on Zoom
March 3 – March 10, 2021

Active Parenting: The First Five Years – 4 session series
Tuesdays, morning or evening
March 23 – April 13, 2021

Nurturing Fathers and Nurturing Parenting for Families Affected by Substance Use programs started this week and will still be open for registration for a few more weeks, so it’s not too late to sign up

Nurturing Parenting for Families Affected by Substance Use – 17 session series
Thursdays from 6:00 – 8:00 pm on Zoom
January 28 – May 6, 2021

Nurturing Fathers – 13 session series
Tuesdays from 6:00 – 8:00 pm on Zoom
January 26 – April 27, 2021

All of these programs are being offered at no cost.   Registration is underway, and it’s as easy as a phone call to 442-7963.

Families CAN! serves Sagadahoc, Knox, and Lincoln counties, and it is supported by the Maine Children’s Trust, a statewide nonprofit whose mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect. The Trust supports similar councils in other counties. “We’re also fortunate to have community partners who welcome the services we provide and offer referrals,” says Dawn.

The Families CAN! team at MMCA consists of Theresa Dow, who serves as Director of the program and also oversees all of Community Services at the agency. Dawn Flagg is the Community Coordinator, and she serves as the point person for child abuse and neglect prevention, oversees educators and training, and brings together community stakeholders and partners. Helen Rogers is the Families Educator, and she delivers parent services, trainings, and classes in Knox and Lincoln counties. Missy Kettell is the Community Educator, and she delivers parenting enrichment and professional trainings.

For more information on Families CAN!, visit or call 207-442-7963. You can also follow Families CAN! on Facebook: