Press-Republican

January 26, 2013

A science behind the fun

Family-resource centers 'strengthen protective factors'

By ROBIN CAUDELL
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — There is a scientific foundation to programming — however fun — at the North Country’s family-resource centers.

These facilities include Family Connections Resource Center in Plattsburgh, Families R Us in Malone, Family Matters in Tupper Lake and Families First in Essex.

“The whole point of these services we offer at our network of family-resource centers is to build and strengthen families’ protective factors,” said Jamie Basiliere, executive director of the Childcare Coordinating Council of the North Country.

“We really believe by building and strengthening protective factors, we are supporting families and preventing child abuse.”

Five protective factors were developed by a national resource center called Family Resource Information Education and Network Development Services (FRIENDS), which provides training and technical assistance to states.

“The state gives us the money to run the actual programs. (FRIENDS) is essentially our funder,” Basiliere said. “We adopted their protective factors as the platform on which we build the services that we offer families. There’s a survey, a questionnaire, we offer to families when they register, and three and six months out. We’re trying to measure the growth or strength of families’ protective factors. We’re trying to be more scientific in how we measure the success of our programs and services we offer to families.”

MEASURING SUCCESS

The five protective factors are:

▶ Parental resilience.

“That’s courage to have the ability to manage and bounce back from challenges that emerge in everyday life,” Basiliere said.

▶ Social connections.

“We help families build a network of support such as friends to help them understand that they’re not alone. They share many commonalities with other parents. Our goal there is to build friendships,” Basiliere said.

▶ Concrete support in times of need.

“This is all about meeting basic needs of families — food, clothing, shelter, health, medical as well as mental health,” Basiliere said. “The goal here is to help connect families to these concrete supports that are offered throughout our communities.”

▶ Knowledge of parenting and child development.

“It’s important for families to have accurate information about child development and for parents to have appropriate expectations for their children’s behavior at every age. We help parents see their children in a positive light,” Basiliere said.

▶ Nurturing and attachment.

“It’s all about supporting the social and emotional competence of children because we want children to be able to interact positively with others, self regulate their behavior and communicate their feelings in positive ways,” Basiliere said.

PLAYGROUPS

Family Connections foster social connections.

“When families come here or to any of the four family-resource centers, they make friends,” Basiliere said. “They may be new to the community or new to staying home with their kids. They may have a new baby and may not have very many friends. The Resource Center facilitates playgroups. You get to visit while you’re here and get to know what you have in common with other people who are here.”

Playgroups also reinforce nurturing and attachment.

“They sound fun, and they are. There’s much more to their importance than meets the eye. The children are having some of their first experiences taking turns. We know that comes before learning to share and learning to negotiate toys and participate in group-art activities,” Basiliere said.

Children’s parents as well as center staff are at hand to lend support.

“We’re helping children to develop good social and emotional health by playing with other children, negotiating with other children, taking turns, singing songs … that sort of thing,” Basiliere said.

At the centers, concrete support in times of need is met by the distribution of children’s clothing, diapers and other items helpful to families.

“We also refer parents to food shelves, pediatricians and mental-health counseling,” Basiliere said. “Those are things we don’t offer but are certainly available in the community.”

All four centers host parenting and education classes, which increase knowledge of parenting and child development. Classes usually meet once a week for 12 weeks. A class in progress uses evidenced-based curricula such as “The Incredible Years” and “Parenting Wisely.”

“Once again, there has been some research at the universities where these curricula were created to show they are successful,” Basiliere said.

Email Robin Caudell:

rcaudell@pressrepublican.com

TO LEARN MORE WHAT: Childcare Coordinating Council of the North Country. WHERE: 194 U.S. Oval, Plattsburgh. CONTACT: Call 561-4999 or visit www.cccnc.org.