Deborah Sparks to head Family Resource Center – Children’s House operations now in transition

Deborah Sparks - Ted Grossman
Deborah Sparks
— image credit: Ted Grossman

Children’s House has hired Deborah Sparks to be interim administrator of the Family Resource Center.

The word “interim” is significant, Children’s House Executive Director Beverly Bell says, noting that a major portion of Sparks’ role will be to help Children House set its future priorities.

Children’s House is currently undertaking an overall review of all the programs operated by the Family Resource Center, one of its branches.

“We’re in transition,” Bell explains. “We have a new board, and we want to see what are our strengths, and how we can best meet the needs of families.” The board of directors is now headed by Robin Woodward, a recent addition to the board. Much of the staffing is also new. Martha Inch resigned last summer as head teacher of the preschool. Madeline Danielson did the same at the Infant-Toddler Center, and Eden Bailey stepped down in December as director of the Family Resource Center. Bell, who became executive director last November, also heads the preschool, while Martha Monroe heads the Infant-Toddler Center.

Bell describes the situation as “challenging,” but she expresses confidence that Children’s House will come out of its difficulties better able to serve children and their families. “We’re not in jeopardy. We’re committed to keeping it going,” she says.

She describes Woodward as “great, great!”, and believes that Sparks will be a terrific asset to the program. Sparks is best known on the island for her acting and directing work at Orcas Center. What’s less known is that she is a licensed mental health counselor who currently works at Community Mental Health Services, Island Mental Health and Skagit Valley Hospital Care Center. Her roles include deputy administrator, trainer and client treatment specialist in dialectical behavior therapy. Sparks’ expertise has run the gamut of administrative, teaching and counseling positions working with children, families and adults.

Children’s House currently operates a program called Birth to Four, which provides a range of support services for young children and their families. It plans to look for new sources of funding, including the local community.

Sparks’ position opened up when Eden Bailey gave up her administrative role to work directly with clients through the Readiness to Learn program. Supervision of that program was recently transferred from Children’s House to the Orcas Island School District. Bailey made the switch to family advocate last December, explaining, “My joy is in working with clients.” She replaced Ronda Herzog, who resigned.

— Ted Grossman is editor of and The Islands’ Sounder. He can be reached at (360) 376-4500 or email.

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