PARENTING HELP: IT TAKES A COLLABORATION TO ENSURE HEALTHY FAMILIES

As part of our home visiting campaign, we’re bringing you stories from home visiting programs in Texas. Read our full home visiting landscape report here. This story comes from DePelchin Children’s Center, a nonprofit accredited foster and adoption agency with locations in Houston, Austin, Lubbock, and San Antonio. As one of the lead contractors for Project HOPES, DePelchin is utilizing state funds through the Prevention and Early Intervention Division (PEI) at the Department of Family and Protective Services to provide a continuum of evidence-based prevention programs that best meet the needs of their local communities. To learn more about Project HOPES, you can access our one pager here. To learn more about the amazing work of DePelchin Children’s Center, read on.

DePelchin Children’s Center has a history of providing prevention services to families through counseling and parenting programs. In talking with parents, they would often report that they were feeling isolated and “at their wits’ end” with their children. They simply felt they did not have the tools they needed to parent effectively. Some parents even shared the fear that they were at risk of handing their children over to the state because they just didn’t know what to do. They would say things like “I yell, I spank, I take things away and nothing works.” Parents were afraid to ask for help because asking for help meant that they were a “bad parent” or taking a class meant they were involved with CPS. The Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support (HOPES) program changed all that.

DePelchin’s HOPES program, which we call Parenting Help, allows parents to normalize parenting issues and makes it easy to ask for help. It shows the community that parenting is hard for all people. Struggles in parenting cross all racial and socioeconomic lines. Parents truly love their kids but just do not know what to do with them. We recognized that parents were not happy with how they were raising their children but did not know a different way. People would laughingly say that “my kids don’t come with an instruction manual–what am I supposed to do?” This is what helped us create the idea of Parenting Help and the tagline “Kids don’t come with instruction manuals – we can help. Parenting Help.”

Many say that it takes a village to raise a child, and we realized it would take a collaboration. We created partnerships with other child and family service agencies to provide a menu of options under the HOPES program to give parents what they need instead. In addition to the formal partnership funded by HOPES, the agencies involved connected with other child serving agencies throughout the community to form the Parenting Help Collaborative. This group meets regularly to support and leverage resources and make sure HOPES families receive what they need.

Families complete the HOPES Parenting Help program and report that they enjoy coming home from work and spending time with their child rather than avoiding them. This program gives us the opportunity to see parents encourage change in their children’s behavior so things like going to the grocery store after a long day are no longer a struggle. They learn how to count apples and sing songs down the aisle while praising their children and how this increases positive behavior while also managing misbehavior. Parents learn they can manage their children’s behavior, teach their children a skill, and spend quality time all in the same moment. It is so empowering for these families who at first felt so out of control with their children to realize that they now have the ability to help their child behave in positive ways. They now know they are the most important person in that child’s life and can make a huge impact.

HOPES has allowed us to implement these services in each county in a way that best meets the needs of that community. Not every community is the same and we can tailor each program to what the parents and children in that county need. We are so grateful for the HOPES program and blessed to be part of seeing these changes in families.   

TexProtects would like to thank Julie Crowe, Charity Eames, and Megan Green at DePelchin Children’s Center for their tireless work for children and families and for sharing their Project HOPES story through this blog.

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