Families Together

Unique to the Providence Children’s Museum, Families Together provides permanency planning and therapeutic visitation for children in state care by using play to foster positive parental interactions at the Providence Children’s Museum or Nina’s House. In 2019, the program served 205 families; since its inception in 1992, Families Together clinicians have moved thousands of families toward permanency.

Families Together participants – children ages birth to 18, their parents, and often extended family members – work with the program’s clinicians to rebuild relationships and strengthen parenting skills. During visits, clinicians assess the family’s strengths and challenges and help develop a permanency plan.


Regular visits mandated by federal law and DCYF policy may be the only connection time for separated families. Conducted in child-friendly environments with skilled clinicians, these visits can be an opportunity to use play as a vehicle for trauma mitigation, relationship assessment, familial connection, and parental education.

  • Therapeutic visitation for infants to 18-year-olds and their parents
  • Fostering kinship connections, especially for families whose cases are open 90 days or less
  • Case management and assessment
  • Parent education through visitation and through weekly parenting groups
  • Supervised visitation for sibling visits and pre-adoptive families
  • Assessment consultation
  • Visitation training for social service workers from DCYF and private agencies

Visitation locations are thoughtfully chosen to meet the needs of the circumstance. Families Together hosted visitations take place at the Providence Children’s Museum or at Nina’s House, a homelike setting. Visits may also occur at other community locations, in the home, and, if safety is a concern, at DCYF visitation rooms.

A purposeful, respectful visitation plan that is responsive to particular strengths and needs of the individuals can increase the likelihood that a challenged family will achieve permanency in a timely manner.

To learn more about the programs and services of Families Together at the Providence Children’s Museum, contact Heidi Brinig, Families Together Program Director, at (401) 354-7387 ext. 1002.

Nina’s House

Nina’s House, which was purchased and renovated by The Nina Foundation, provides a healing, homelike setting where families can rebuild relationships while practicing everyday parenting skills.

Nina’s House enabled Families Together to expand services to additional families; fill a major need for early and thorough assessment of DCYF-involved families; provide parenting skill development for more families with very young children; and better serve those with serious emotional and cognitive challenges.

With the addition of Nina’s House, families will also rebuild relationships while practicing basic skills in a warm, homelike setting conducive to family healing.

To learn more about the programs and services of Families Together at the Providence Children’s Museum, contact Heidi Brinig, Families Together Program Director, at (401) 354-7387 ext. 1002.


Nina’s House
(401) 354-7387

Families Together Program Director
Heidi Brinig
(401) 354-7387 ext. 1002

Families Together Visitation Consultants
Cheryl Lepre
(401) 528-3931 (Region I)
and (401) 792-5072 (Region III)


Families Together has advised new child welfare partnerships for Rhode Island’s Community Care Alliance and Family Services, Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York and Long Island Children’s Museum, and Niantic Children’s Museum in Connecticut.

2019 – awarded the Angels in Adoption Congressional Award for this work after being nominated by Senator Jack Reed.

2006 – received MetLife Foundation and Association of Children’s Museums Promising Practice Replication Award. This honor provides recognition and inspiration for children’s museums across the country to develop similar programs based on the Families Together model, using the tool kit the Museum created following receipt of the award.

2003 – Families Together was a top finalist for the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award, a program of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government