Friday, October 28, 2016

The Positive Impact of Social Connections for Parents

Submitted by Griselda Williams, Mental Wellness Manager

Recently, I wrote a blog about our relationship with the Children’s Trust Fund (CTF), Missouri’s Foundation for Child Abuse Prevention. CTF awarded Community LINC a grant to fund mental wellness services for children and youth from ages 6-17. Mental wellness services are provided by our Child Therapist and can include individual therapy and socialization and coping skills group.  While children and youth receive services, we also provide support services to parents based on the CTF model. Several of our staff participated in a conference and on-line training supported by the CTF with a focus on “Building Protective Factors to Strengthen Families." Topics shared throughout the training included the following protective factors:

  • Concrete support for parents in times of need
  • Parent Resilience
  • Social Connections
  • Social and Emotional Competence
  • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

Recently, in our parents’ Healthy Lifestyles group, I observed the impact that Social Connections can have for our parents. Clare Hollander, of the Kansas City Public Library, spoke to our parents on Children’s Literacy and provided books for the children.  Clare discussed the importance of exposing children of all ages to books. I observed the reactions and listened to the input of several of the program participants.  Initially, Anita seemed a bit hesitant to take books for her children. She also shared that, due to her work schedule, she had little time to read to her young children. As another parent, Dena shared how she exposes her 2-year-old son to words and books; Anita asked how she could start reading to her children. The more Dena shared the benefits of exposing her son to books, the more Anita began to see how she could include reading to her children in their bedtime routine. As Dena shared that her son had a library card and how he enjoys going to the library, Anita began to discuss taking her children to the public library. Dena also shared that more parents need to be involved in their children’s schools and Anita then asked how to do this. Dena shared how she stays connected to her son’s school, and by the end of the group meeting, Anita asked Clare Hollander for books for her children. It was evident to me that Social Connections with other parents provided a great support and influence for Anita, more than my words as the group facilitator and our guest librarian could provide.