When 19-year-old Beatriz Arenas learned she was pregnant, she realized she was not prepared to be the best mom she could be to the baby she already began to love.
"I had a lot of questions — How often do they eat? What do you do when they are newborn and you need to take a shower? What is it going to be like? Just so many questions," said Arenas.
Fortunately, a friend told her about free parenting programs offered by Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale, a United Way grantee partner, and she eagerly signed up. By the time her son was born in June, Arenas felt comfortable that she had answers to her many questions and the knowledge she needed to be a responsible and effective parent.
"Because of these programs, I knew what to do when my baby first came into the world," said Arenas, who has since recommended the programs to other parents needing support.
PCAR offers a variety of parenting programs, with some geared toward the general parenting population and others toward those in specific parenting situations, such as foster parents and "at-risk" families. Separate programs are provided for families with children ages 0-12, families with adolescents, fathers, Hispanic families, prison inmates and teen parents. All of the programs teach participants how to understand their child’s needs and developmental stages, effective ways of interacting with each other, how to develop more positive family relationships, and other skills for coping with the stress of being a parent.
"The ultimate vision of Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale is to stop the intergenerational cycle of child abuse in families by building nurturing parenting skills, alleviating the stresses that lead parents to child abuse and reduce the rates of juvenile delinquency, substance abuse and teenage pregnancy," said PCAR Executive Director Diane Howington.
PCAR Board member Facie Goodman said that the parenting programs give a foundation for parents to build upon to develop emotionally healthy families. In turn, emotionally healthy families create a healthy community, she believes.
"Through the parenting programs, parents are preparing their children to enter society emotionally stable," said Goodman. "Children enter school ready to learn and become productive…They have the foundation because their parents were given the opportunity to improve their parenting skills."
According to Howington, more than 1,000 people will be impacted this year by PCAR’s parenting programs.
"We are the primary and premier provider of parent education classes in our community," said Howington. "As all of our services are offered free of charge, the support of United Way helps to ensure the quality and continuation of our programs."
For more information on the classes or PCAR, call (770) 483-7333 or visit www.pcarockdale.org. - Staff reports
To support Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale through your gift to United Way in Rockdale County with an individual contribution or a company campaign, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (678) 623-2857.