February 23, 2010

Kids First Supports Parents, Benefits Kids

Filed under: Child Services — Sue Dirosario @ 10:42 am

By Broadreach Family & Community Services
Feb 22, 2010 –

 For the last 11 years, Broadreach Family & Community Services has been providing a valuable education program called “Kids First” to parents experiencing separation, divorce or child custody conflicts. A one-time, four-hour program held on a Saturday morning provides parents with some valuable information about the effects of adult conflict on their children. Experienced male-female teams who have professional backgrounds in education and mental health counseling, and who have personal experience with family conflict, present the classes.

As one recent participant said in their evaluation at the end of the class, “I think that we will be able to work on our problems and deal with them in a well behaved manner”. Another parent offered “I need to let go. My child in the end is the one who gets hurt the most”.

Most parents come to the program as a result of a strong recommendation or an order from the Court where action related to the family is being discussed. One parent summed up the feeling of many parents, saying “I’m very glad that it was mandatory; I enjoyed the program”. Parents who want to attend voluntarily and who may not have yet filed for divorce or custody, can benefit from the program, have the opportunity to ask questions and to learn from the experience of others.

The Kids First curriculum was developed by the Kids First Center in Portland and Broadreach operates its program through an agreement with them. Each class participant receives a parent handbook that outlines the research and philosophy used in developing the curriculum. Most of that research was conducted by Dr. Judith Wallerstein and colleagues in California who had a long history of providing family counseling in divorce cases. The researchers followed those families periodically over a more than 25 year period and published their findings in installments covering 5 year periods. The most recent book is titled the “Unexpected Legacy of Divorce”, published in 2000.

Some financial support for the program comes from the Family Division of Maine’s Administrative Office of the Courts, and this support makes it possible to offer partial scholarships to parents who qualify as a result of low income.