A home for reunification, exploration and healing opens this fall
Washoe County Social Services purchases a building for a Family Engagement Center.

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Chris Ciarlo

Reno, Nevada. April 26, 2017. A new Family Engagement Center is coming this fall to Washoe County. With the help of a Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA) federal grant, Washoe County Social Services purchased a building located at 905 E. Prater Way earlier this year and renovation is underway.

The new Family Engagement Center will offer a more expansive indoor and outdoor visitation space, playground and more parking for staff, birth and foster parents. The center will be a multi-use facility with an open, natural environment featuring various fun activities for children of all ages. The center’s décor will be strategically placed and the walls painted with bright, creative colors known to stimulate reconciliation and create a safe, positive environment for parents and children alike. The center will be a place for families to meet interact, explore, grow and relax.

Visitation between parents and their children is a critical part of the reunification process. Studies show natural, spacious environments reduce anxiety and depression.

“The Family Engagement Center will be pivotal in providing a safe and secure place where staff can serve children in Washoe County who have been victims of abuse and neglect. It’s also available to extended family, estranged, biological and foster parents to utilize while children are placed outside of the home,” Washoe County Social Services Director Amber Howell said.

Media is welcome to get video of the renovation from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., on Monday, April 27, 2017. Interviews will be available on-site.

Who: Washoe County Department of Social Services

What: Construction of Family Engagement Center

Where: 905 E. Prater Way, Sparks

When: Thursday, April 27, 2017, from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Contact: Chris Ciarlo at or 775-337-4500.

Why a New Family Engagement Center?

The center is needed due to the lack of space at the current center located at 350 S. Center Street. On average, 15,200 visits to foster children take place at the Center Street location each year. The current location offers only 10 small visitation and interview rooms which aren’t adequate in size.

Calling on the Construction Community for Donations

Social Services received a $1.7 million VOCA federal grant, which is distributed to counties and not-for-profit companies for victims of crimes by the State of Nevada Division of Child and Family Services. Much of the cost associated with the center will be paid by VOCA but not all. Material donations are needed from the construction community to help complete the project. If you would like to donate, contact Washoe County Community Services Department Project Manager Megan Sizelove at

Learn more about VOCA grants.

View a rendering of the Family Engagement Center kitchen.

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Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »
Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »