By Allyssa Mulliger, Staff Writer
A multi-year initiative in Spartanburg County focused on healthy family relationships is introducing a program that will take some of the guesswork out of parenting.
The Mary Black Foundation has launched a grant-funded, five-year Healthy Families Initiative that will help organizations and entities implement the Positive Parenting Program, also called Triple P. The program will give parents simple and practical strategies for building strong relationships with their children.
“We all know that parents play the most important role in raising healthy and successful adults, but we also know that parents aren’t given an instructional manual to do this most difficult and demanding job.,” said Kathy Dunleavy, president and CEO of the Mary Black Foundation. “We are excited to be able to support parents through Triple P.”
Expanding the Positive Parenting Program throughout Spartanburg County is the first step in the foundation’s strategy to take a multigenerational approach to early childhood development.
The program will offer different levels of parenting skills training for families with children age 5 and younger, and parenting advice seminars for families with children 12-17 years old. The program will be available to Spartanburg families starting this summer.
The Mary Black Foundation is partnering with Spartanburg-based Hope Center for Children, Children’s Trust of South Carolina and Triple P America to help several area organizations begin the Positive Parenting Program. In the coming weeks, organizations will receive training, technical assistance and grant money to start the program.
Chamlee Loscuito, CEO of Hope Center for Children, said the organization has had a part of the program for more than six years and has seen great success from it.
“I’m a parent myself, and I think most folks who have ever been a parent will say there are days where they wish there was someone to listen about an issue or crisis happening at the moment,” she said. “As a community we’re not always good at destigmatizing asking for help. We feel as parents that it’s an inherent role that we’re supposed to know how to do. So a big part of this is making sure that there is lots of communication going out communitywide to show there are resources and ways to get help.”
Hope Center for Children has hired a Healthy Families Initiative director who will help implement the program at organizations including Spartanburg Interfaith Hospitality Network.
“At SPIHN we always want to provide a variety of wrap-around services for our families,” said Beth Rutherford, executive director. “I feel every parent, no matter how old or young their children are, could always use great parenting tips.”
Rutherford said her organization will be partnering with The Haven homeless shelter. Facilitators including Rutherford will begin by meeting with families once a month to offer parenting tips and hold discussion groups.
“If we don’t provide these supportive services, we are never going to curb any of the effects,” Rutherford said. “This is one more avenue to help the children by having good parenting.”
Loscuito said research shows that when all levels of the Positive Parenting Program are implemented, the rates of child abuse go down.
“In Spartanburg County, we have more children in foster care than any county in the whole state,” she said. “That speaks to the fact that we need to do more in our community on the front end for parents to make sure those rates go down.”
Spartanburg School District 2 and the Upstate Family Resource Center are also collaborating to begin the program.
Kelly Ezell, executive director of Upstate Family Resource Center, said facilitators will work with families one-on-one to target specific issues they may be experiencing. There also will be larger group discussions that focus on parenting skills and strategies, she said.
“Our mission is to help families thrive, and we know that is a work in progress,” Ezell said. “We hope to provide support and the tools necessary for families to be resilient and be able to cope with the issues that arise in their family, schools, community.”
Caroline Ford, a grant writer for District 2, said different seminars will be held throughout the year for 4K and 5K families — a power of positive parenting session in the summer, a raising resilient children session in the fall and a raising confident and competent children session in the spring.
“It’s a really hard adjustment for children who have never been in a school environment,” Ford said. “We’ll also be trained on giving individual parent advice for those with children who may be having behavior issues. Ultimately, we’re in this together to make sure they have the best experience for their children.”
Source: Spartanburg Herald-Journal