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Family Visitation Rooms Transformed by Art, Comfy Furniture, and Love

The Milford DCF family visitation room geared toward teenagers features Bob’s Knox sofa and Bob’s Glamour LED Floor Mirror as the focal point of a hairdressing area.

Family visitation rooms throughout the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) are now looking more like home thanks to two Connecticut non-profit organizations, Fostering Family Hope, Inc. (FFH) and RiseUp for Arts, in partnership with Bob’s Discount Furniture.

Stepping into the Milford DCF family visitation rooms, the collaboration between the organizations manifests into tastefully decorated spaces complete with relaxations areas, child play areas and even an area for hairdressing. What were once drab spaces akin to office waiting rooms with mis-matched chairs and bare walls, are now vibrant and comfortable meeting areas for families to connect during one of the most difficult times.

FFH Executive Directors Megan Pearson and Erin Johnston are foster parents who founded the non-profit to help humanize the DCF family visitation experience. The goal of FFH’s Visitation Room Program is to provide a welcoming, supportive, and interactive environment for children and families to give each family the best opportunity to succeed.

“When parents and kids have great bonds their unification success is much higher,” shared Pearson. “One dad was just laying on the couch with his newborn snuggling. You take that for granted. Coming into DCF is not the easiest thing. It’s a very hard thing to do for both biological parents and kids, so to make it just a little less hard, is our goal,” she added. 

Bob’s Playscape sofa welcomes relaxation for families and time to bond in the mulit-age Milford DCF family visitation room.

Local artists from RiseUp painted murals in all four of the Milford DCF family visitation rooms, giving each space a unique theme.  One room focuses on small children and babies with whimsical décor while another space is geared toward teenagers with bright mural art sharing messages of encouragement and selflove. The focal point of a calming room for children with sensory needs is Bob’s inviting and overstuffed Bobby Bear chair. The final room welcomes families with children of all ages and features Bob’s popular Playscape sofa.

With a focus on sensory and calming, this Milford DCF visitation room boasts low lighting, a tranquil mural, and Bob’s Bobby Bear chair.

Bob’s Discount Furniture provided an $8,000 grant to FFH enabling the team to pick out furniture that best fit the spaces. The grant will be used at FFH discretion throughout the state’s 14 DCF centers, which serves more than 3,000 children.

“Parents and kids can bond and have fun and cuddle,” said Pearson. “Parents can just be parents. To give them a room where they can really get on the floor and play and nurture and be a family, that’s what we want,” she added.

Bob’s popular Bettie sofa adorns the Milford DCF family visitation room that is geared for small children and babies.

“You hear the proverb, ‘It takes a village,’” said Connecticut DCF Commissioner Vanessa Dorantes. “Fostering Family Hope and Bob’s Furniture who provided all of the furniture for our visiting rooms are part of the village. What these rooms represent is a time when families can just be families,” Dorantes added.

Fostering Family Hope Inc., Executive Directors Megan Person (white shirt) and Erin Johnston (pink shirt) and Connecticut DCF Commissioner, Vanessa Dorantes (blue jumpsuit) with members of the Milford DCF and area organizations.
Fox61’s Jim Altman reports from the Milford DCF room unveiling reception on Monday, June 6.