Meet JRI's Service Navigator

Our Navigator personally answers questions and talks with you about resources that may be available in the community to meet your individualized needs. If you have any questions about our programs or services, or aren't sure what you need, contact our Service Navigator, Rachel Arruda, and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.

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JRI First Connections Blog

2 min read

Developmental Milestones

By Ellie Springer on May 30, 2019

I often come across websites and apps that detail what to expect as your child develops and give tips on how to promote healthy development. These websites can also give you ideas of when you might need to get additional screening for your child. I am collecting a list of these sites and apps here to make them easier to find.

CDC has a milestone tracker app and pamphlets:

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones-app.html

Mass.gov has videos about development

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5 min read

Discipline for Young Children, Part 4--Rewards and Punishment

By Ellie Springer on February 22, 2019

Is it better to use punishment or rewards to change your child's behavior? I read a great New York Times article last summer about how the best choice is really something else entirely. The article is a bit long, but it has a lot of helpful information and gives specific ideas of things you should say instead of just what not to say.

What it boils down to is this: neither punishment nor rewards is

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4 min read

Discipline for Young Children, Part 3: Time Outs

By Ellie Springer on December 14, 2018

What about time outs? I am not a big fan of time outs where you just put your child in a corner by himself for a specific amount of time--a minute for each year of his age is one I hear a lot. What is he learning there? That seems to me like punishment, not discipline. I once heard someone compare time outs athletes take during a game or practice to the ones we

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5 min read

Discipline for Young Children, Part 2

By Ellie Springer on December 8, 2018

This is my second post on discipline for young children. If you want more of an overview and some key points to keep in mind when developing an approach to discipline for your family, check out my first post.

One caveat to all this is that every family and every child is different. What works with one child may not work with another child, and what one parent is comfortable doing, another is not. And

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5 min read

Discipline for Young Children, Part 1

By Ellie Springer on November 30, 2018

One thing I often see caregivers struggle with is how to discipline their baby, toddler, or preschooler. They're so little; how do you decide when to start disciplining them? And once they get to be a "Terrible Two" or a "Threenager," how do you correct, and maybe even prevent for next time, behavior that is challenging?

I went to a training in the summer of 2017 about the Positive Discipline parenting approach. The training had some

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9 min read

Choosing a preschool or child care

By Ellie Springer on September 14, 2018

The first time you drop your child off at school or child care can be full of mixed emotions--for you and for your child, as you are sad to be away from one another but also excited about all the new experiences s/he will have. School should be a fun, exciting place where your child learns new things, makes new friends, and feels safe and loved with wonderful caregivers. How do you find the right

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2 min read

Why Sensory Play

By Ellie Springer on August 10, 2018

Do you see headlines everywhere about sensory play for babies and toddlers? Are you wondering what sensory play is, or why so many people recommend it? Or do you just HATE a mess, and you think that's inevitable with sensory play?

Even though it can be messy, sensory play (things like water, play dough, sand, bins of dry rice or pasta, or combinations thereof) is a great way for children to learn many important skills. 

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4 min read

Dialogic Reading

By Ellie Springer on August 3, 2018

What is Dialogic Reading?

Some of you may have heard or read about dialogic reading in materials from First Connections or elsewhere, and hopefully many of you in playgroups will recognize this style of reading aloud from our circle time.

Dialogic Reading is a technique that has been shown to improve children’s language skills and readiness for reading independently. It is a technique that we use in our playgroup circle times and encourage families to

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4 min read

Going to the library with your child

By Ellie Springer on July 27, 2018

Tips on taking your young child to the library:

  1. DO IT!! You may think your toddler is too wild for the library and will only make a mess and annoy the librarians and other patrons; but the children’s section of your library should be set up for children. Most libraries’ children’s sections have toys, puzzles, and coloring for children. It’s a great place to go on a rainy, too hot, or too cold day.
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3 min read

Sorry, Not Sorry

By Ellie Springer on July 20, 2018

Often, when adults see a child do something that hurts someone else, intentionally or unintentionally, they immediately admonish the child, "Say you're sorry!"

Well, that's not always (or even most of the time) the best solution. If he did it on purpose, your preschooler may very well not be sorry that he took that toy he wanted from someone else, that he pushed someone out of his way while he was running on

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A Blog to Connect Families with Resources to Foster Healthy Parenting

Our mission at First Connections is to equip parents with tools, practical strategies, and connections to other families and their communities to foster healthy parenting and guide them through the first years of the parenting journey.

We offer support groups and play groups to families with children from birth to age 8 in the communities of Acton, Bedford, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Hanscom AFB, Harvard, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Sudbury, and Westford.

Featured Posts

Choosing a preschool or child care

The first time you drop your child off at school or child care can be full of mixed emotions--for you

Read More

Dialogic Reading

What is Dialogic Reading?

Some of you may have heard or read about dialogic reading in materials from First Connections

Read More

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