1987, a group of concerned citizens from our community came together to open Madonna Place. The vision was to create a center for disadvantaged women and children; a non-judgmental place where women could meet other mothers and learn from the nurse coordinator and each other. The philosophy was to “nurture the nurturer” by providing emotional support and resources to mothers so they would be better equipped to handle the important job of caring for their children.
Members of the original Board of Directors were from the Norwich Public Schools, Backus Hospital, United Community and Family Services, the University of Connecticut, Lawrence and Memorial Hospital and local churches. Madonna Place has continued to partner and maintain close relationships with these organizations over the years.
we invited fathers to participate in Madonna Place programming
we received a grant from the Children’s Trust Fund which allowed us to hire our first dedicated fatherhood parent educator and case manager.
Madonna Place was selected as one of the three State of Connecticut Fatherhood Initiative research and demonstration project sites.
Madonna place provided the agency with opportunities to enrich and expand our prevention and home-based services to families. These services included a Healthy Families Program, which is now part of the Nurturing Families Program, the Early Child Parents in Partnership Program, and the Parents Education Assessment Program. These services helped to fill critical needs in our community for in home parenting programming that prevented child abuse and neglect. We continue to expand our work with families in their homes and sought out additional opportunities to offer services to vulnerable children in partnership with the Public Schools and Children First Initiatives through our Family School Connection Program. We also had the opportunity to add the Triple P Parenting Program and participate in the State of Connecticut Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.
Madonna Places was awarded an expansion to our existing Fatherhood Initiative Grant through DCF to serve more fathers in the Eastern part of the state and Middletown. This expansion allowed for a 24-7 Dad program to be held weekly in Norwich, Willimantic, Middletown and New London, adding 3 Fatherhood Specialists to our staff. Unfortunately, the state ended their funding for the Parenting Support Program and Families First Home Visiting Programs in many parts of the state that same year, making Madonna Place’s Great Beginnings Home Visiting the only program in Norwich.
Madonna Place remained open as an essential human service agency, providing food, clothing, diapers, formula, PPE and other basic and emergency needs resources, as well as remote telephone and web-based case management, fatherhood programming and home visiting during COVID-19. We also provided curb-side no-contact agency pick-up and home delivery for resources for those with transportation issues. The COVID-19 crisis created a high demand for our services in the community and the staff of the agency remained working to meet those needs without disruption to service to any client.
Madonna Place is a comprehensive family support agency serving all of Eastern CT, including Windham County and Middletown. We are recognized as a leader in the field of parent education, home visiting, child abuse prevention services, community health outreach, and service to fathers. We serve the community with our four main programs: Fatherhood Initiative, Family Support Center, Great Beginnings Home Visiting, and Community Outreach Plus Education. Our new Executive Director Claire Silva joined us July 1, 2021 to train along-side outgoing, retiring Executive Director Nancy Gentes who had been with our organization for 30 years. Claire has overseen the reorganizing of our Family Support Center Program, the re-opening of in-person services post-COVID, the opening of the COPE program, and expansion of community partnerships. Madonna Place opened the COPE Program (Community Outreach Plus Education Program) in 2022 to help support families and community members with mental health, behavioral health, substance abuse and violence prevention referrals and resources. COVID exacerbated existing risk factors for individuals and families, and the COPE Program funding from multiple private foundations, the Department of Children and Family for Fatherhood outreach, and Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services was combined to make this critical community program possible. We look forward to all we can achieve together in the coming years.