Moms who get coached through the Family Resource Center are less stressed and better prepared to handle their little ones and help them get ready for kindergarten. But guess what? So are grandmothers and great-grandmothers.
Maria Elena Parada and her great-grandson Andrew are participants of the Partners in Parenting Education Program. As one of several speakers, she attested to the program's benefits during a ribbon cutting on Monday of the Nogales Family Resource Center located on the A.J. Mitchell Elementary School campus.
"The classes . are designed to reaffirm love, patience, trust and play with our daughters and sons, building a positive relationship," she told the crowd of about 60 educators, parents, children, neighbors and supporters who attended the event.
"One of the classes that I enjoy the most teaches a lesson in life; learning how to re-energize ourselves physically and emotionally and being better mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers for it," she said.
The children meanwhile learn social interaction, independence confidence and other skills to give them a leg-up in their development, Parada said.
Veronica Padilla is the site coordinator. "Many times it's the grandmothers and great-grandmothers that are babysitting and are the ones who actually come with the children," she said. "We have a couple of fathers that come too. We like to see that."
Services are free to families with children under 5 who live in the United States.
And while the A.J. Mitchell facility serves downtown residents, participants come from different areas, including Rio Rico. Currently about 30 families are participating including 50 to 60 children. "We still have space for more," Padilla said.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for the community to utilize our services," she said. "It's not only for the kids but for their (caretakers), whom we teach skills that they in turn practice with the children at home."
The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension subcontracts with Nogales Unified School District No. 1, Patagonia Elementary School District No. 6, Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District No. 35 to operate the centers. The Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools to raise awareness about the value of early childhood care and education, said Debbie Curley of the UA.
"Our programs make an impact on students and families as they enter school," she said. "The Rio Rico Family Resource Center, where we have had a partnership with SCVUSD for more than two years, has served more than 400 families. Steve Schadler, the director of curriculum and instruction told us that many of those parents now have more realistic expectations of kindergarten. Veronica Santillo, the district-wide preschool teacher, said the skills inventory of children entering pre-kinder this year were significantly higher than last year."
The Family Resource Center program is made possible through grant support from the First Things First (FTF) Santa Cruz Regional Partnership Council. First Things First is a statewide organization committed to helping Arizona children five and younger start school healthy and ready to succeed.
Furnishings for the Nogales center were donated by the Southeastern Arizona Behavioral Health Services.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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