WHITEHALL — It can be difficult for new, young families to find the resources and help they need to provide the best quality of life for their child. What started as a grant project four years ago became reality Wednesday, as White Lake Community Library has officially become a certified Family Place Library, which provides programs and workshops targeted for those families who need extra information and to build connections with other families.

“The first component is the parent-child workshop, which is a five week workshop,” said Kristen Todd-Wurm, a national coordinator for Family Place Libraries. “It’s play-based. It’s parents and children ages one to three. It’s all set up as an interactive workshop. The parent and child go station-to-station and they also have an art exploration activity. It’s something that they can explore with their hands.”

In addition to the play workshops, White Lake Community Library can bring in specialists to serve specific parent and child needs.

“It’s not just a librarian in the room, it’s also a resource professional from the community,” Todd-Wurm said. “So libraries invite speech pathologists, nutritionists, child development specialists. If a parent has concerns about a potential speech delay or about the way their child is developing, they now have that connection where they can talk to the resource professional. They make a commitment to being with these families and giving them the services they need.”

Oftentimes the age group of one to three gets forgotten or not given free services that older children get. Family Place Libraries’ goal is to give children of that age group the resources and attention they need.

“It’s a community meeting place where families can meet each other and children can interact,” said Todd-Wurm. “Other components are additional programming for that age group. Storytime, sensory play. When I was a little kid, they really didn’t offer programming until you were in preschool. So we’re really making sure that we’re servicing that population.”

White Lake Community Library director Virginia DeMumbrum hopes that this will become a welcoming place for not just children, but young families and parents.

“We want it to become known throughout the community that we are a welcoming place for not just supporting literacy needs of young children, but supporting young families in all of their needs,” said DeMumbrum. “So making us a more welcoming and inclusive place, making sure that young families know that they’re welcome and supported.”

The Family Place Libraries program can also offer parents the time to be present with their child without being preoccupied by other responsibilities.

“It’s a wonderful environment and program that offers just very low-key, subtle context for the awkward parent who is consumed by work responsibility, social and emotional responsibility, as well as raising a child,” Thomas Foster, program co-coordinator at White Lake Community Library said. “It’s a chance to unplug just for a brief moment and that would be my only complaint is that we can’t do this 24 hours a day because that’s the healthiest environment for a kid.”

With the specialists and professionals that Family Place Libraries brings into their workshops, coordinators hope that parents will be able to gain new information from reliable sources.

“It’s very hard to find credible, reliable information for parenting,” said Kaitlyn Carmody, youth services librarian at Middle Country Public Library. “You can Google anything, however it’s hard to find somewhere that you can find reliable resources.”

In addition to providing specialists to help child participants grow, the Family Place Libraries program allows parents and children to meet and create connections.

“It’s really awesome to see the families come together,” said Mary Gorman, youth coordinator and program co-coordinator. “It’s not just what we’re offering them, it’s also that they’re in an area where they can communicate with each other. They get a community that way, which is so important because our families can be so isolated just by being a homemaker or a working parent where they don’t have time to get out and do these things. I love having a place for parents to interact with their children, but I also enjoy watching the parents interact with each other and the children interact with each other.”

White Lake Community Library hosts two five-week Family Place sessions per year, taking place Thursday nights from 6 to 7 p.m.