Column: Center provides resources to promote health family lifestyles

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 8, 2003

By the Parenting Resource Center

The mission of the Parenting Resource Center Inc. is to provide resources, services and prevention education to promote healthy, safe lifestyles for families within the community. The program serves parents, grandparents, child care providers, and professionals who serve families. It supports families with children of all ages.

The Parenting Resource Center has diversified funding sources: State grants from the Departments of Human Services, Public Health and Public Safety, a federal grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Mower and Freeborn Counties, private foundations, generated income, and the United Way of Mower and Freeborn Counties.

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The Parenting Resource Center is a new United Way agency. Maryanne Law, the director of the agency, commented that the Center is &uot;really pleased by the financial support (from the United Way) since the program has been majorly impacted by state budget cuts.&uot; The United Way of Freeborn County has provided $3,000 towards the funding of three Parenting Resource Center programs that serve families in Freebom County: Crisis Nursery, Parent WarmLine/Linea de Apoyo Y Comprension Paterna, and Child Care Resource and Referral that have all been severely impacted by state budget cuts.

Crisis Nursery provides confidential emergency child care at no cost for 2-72 hours for infants through 12 year olds. Parents may use Crisis Nursery services 10 times in a 12-month period, if necessary. Crisis Nursery services are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The 26 licensed shelter homes/child care providers are the foundation of the Crisis Nursery services. While all the licensed care givers are available to Freeborn County families, 14 care-givers are located in Freeborn County; Law has seen a need for even more.

Since becoming a Freeborn County United Way agency, Freeborn County families using the Crisis Nursery have more than tripled: Between July-September 2003, 14 children from nine different families received emergency care; over 50 percent were single parent families. Typical reasons for using Crisis Nursery relate to health, housing, finances, recovery needs or personal issues such as funerals, accidents, extreme stress, domestic conflict, unexpected lack of child care and transitioning to employment. By having their children cared for in a safe environment, parents can do what is necessary to alleviate or lessen the problem, so that adult problems do not become children’s problems.

Parent WarmLine, 1 (888) 584-2204 and Linea de Apoyo y Comprension Paterna, 1 (877) 434-9528 provide easily accessible parenting information, emotional support and problem-solving assistance for parents who speak English and Spanish by using toll-free, non-crisis telephone numbers. Last year there were 774 unduplicated callers from Freeborn and Mower County; 30 percent were Spanish-speaking callers; 26 percent of the callers called again at least once; the callers were caring for or concerned about 1,153 unduplicated children. In 98 percent of the calls, there is de-escalation in stress and a specific plan of action identified. Callers are seeking help with challenging behaviors, the impact of divorce or blended families, effective discipline, balancing work and family, alcohol and drug use, sexuality concerns, and diagnosed special needs. Parents and care-givers can call during the day, evenings and week-ends. Parent WarmLine/Linea de Apoyo y Comprension Paterna increase protective factors and decrease risk factors in children’s lives by lowering adult frustration and enhancing parents’ capacity to understand and use positive parenting methods.

Child Care Resource and Referral supports 64 Freeborn County licensed child care providers, as well legal unlicensed child care providers, with a variety of educational training opportunities, business support and regular updating of the referral database for licensed providers. The CCRR Coordinator is an active Freeborn County collaborative partner. Special CCRR programs include training 10 veteran child care providers and coordinating mentoring matches with new child care providers; seven of those new providers are in Freeborn County.

The Jump Start program also provides four new child care providers, identified by the Freeborn County child care licenser, with in-home modeling of learning readiness activities, group activities, transitions and child guidance. Packets of written materials are given to these providers at each visit on topics including business issues, health and safety, child development and age-appropriate activities. The goals of Child Care Resource and Referral are to ensure that children have quality child care environments that are safe, free from bias, and rich in learning opportunities and that new providers are recruited, trained and retained in Freeborn County.

Law believes that it is &uot;very important to have networking opportunities&uot; and Parenting Resource Center’s partnership with the United Way has exposed many of the programs that they offer to the residents of Freeborn County. The programs help serve families with multiple stressors, such as poverty, crisis situations, life barriers, etc. &uot;Being able to be in a positive connection increases the effectiveness of the services we provide,&uot; Law said. &uot;It’s helpful to also know the services of other agencies&uot; so the Parenting Resource Center can recommend people to agencies, if they do not provide the services needed.

Freeborn County has shown a need for all of the services that the Parenting Resource Center provides and the more exposure the hotlines and other services get, the more calls the Center receives. It’s their goal to &uot;increase the ease of access of our programs,&uot; said Law, &uot;What we’re trying to do is make sure that these programs are available to Freeborn County.&uot;