Tacoma families have a new community hub for family events, classes and perinatal services. Fern + Foster Family Wellness (1402 S. 11th St) in Hilltop has opened their doors this summer to begin hosting a twice weekly drop-in lactation support group, a monthly children’s story hour, a monthly pregnancy loss and bereavement support group, pelvic floor workshops, and more. They will continue to add regular support groups, lactation education classes, childbirth education classes, and a retail shop. They offer private services provided by a doula, nurse-midwife, lactation consultant, physical therapist, massage therapist, and an acupuncturist.
Co-founders Danielle Schell, Olivia Bennett, and Emily Ager all saw a similar need in their community for a central location where families could access care and community without having to navigate a fragmented and complicated healthcare system during the fragile time of planning for and bringing home a new family member. Schell is a certified birth and bereavement doula, and comes from a background in small business development, equity and diversity training, and anthropology studies. Bennett is a nurse-midwife and has first-hand experience in helping growing families navigate a system with obvious gaps in accessible care and disparities in health outcomes among our diverse population, especially among populations of color and sexual and gender minorities. Ager is a trained midwife and certified lactation consultant, with experience in private practice and hospital-based care, who has been motivated by the hundreds of families sharing their stories about difficulty accessing the support they have needed to be successful in their infant feeding goals. All three of the founders are committed to providing an inclusive and accessible model of care for our diverse population.
Fern + Foster would like to thank the Spaceworks Small Business Incubator for helping them launch. They hope the wellness center becomes the one-stop shop for growing families to access care and community in their own city.
“We know firsthand how challenging and isolating knew parenthood can be. We wanted to open a space where new parents feel welcome at any time, even if it is just to sit on our couch and feed their baby so they are not alone on a tough day. We are excited for our clients to get to enjoy our classes and services that we provide as well, but the heart of this space is to build community and offer support. It was born out of our own motherhood journeys, and that experience will always be central to how we provide services.”Emily Ager, co-founder of Fern + Foster
“As a doula I’ve spent nine years helping families navigate and find the resources they need in a system that is not created with the family in mind. Whether you are on an infertility journey or caring for a new baby, people are dealing with a lot and we knew our model would have to be a place that broke down barriers for families rather than putting that work back on the individual. Good care is not an exclusive right of the well-connected. At Fern +Foster we aim to find innovative ways to care for people and foster authentic connections. That goal has informed every decision we have made for our space.”Danielle Schell, co-founder of Fern + Foster
Olivia Bennett, nurse-midwife and co-founder will also soon be offering full scope well-woman care, birth control, annual exams, as well as fertility services, LGBTQ focused healthcare, and eventually prenatal care.
“Many people don’t feel comfortable receiving intimate healthcare in a standard clinic. I specialize in partnering with my patients to help them achieve their healthcare goals, for a variety of reasons. Providing this care means trauma-informed pelvic exams, extra time in visits to have full discussions of all options and tests offered, and taking the time to get to know you and what’s important for your body to feel its best.”Olivia Bennett, Fern + Foster co-founder
The wellness center features a front lounge, a retail space (coming soon!), a private waiting room, three exam rooms, a classroom, and a children’s play area. The exam rooms host the co-founders’ private practices as well as physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, and plans for mental health therapy. The classroom will regularly host Fern +Foster’s events and is also available to rent for workshops and classes by other local groups and providers.
The Fern + Foster Family Wellness Center is located in the Hilltop neighborhood, close to public transportation and the new light-rail, between the two obstetrical hospitals and various community clinics.
Fern + Foster will be fully open mid-September 2019, with regular classes, groups and services rolling out in the meantime.