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New Program Teaches Good Parenting Skills
By Kelli McPhail
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A program that teaches parents the importance of family and parenting skills also seeks to provide a safe environment where children can grow.
Children born into poverty or single-parent families risk poor development and may not receive skills necessary to become healthy and productive adults.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services and the Mississippi State University Extension Service developed the Bright Futures program in 1995. The program promotes family values and teaches resource management.
"Bright Futures provides educational programs and parent-mentor services through home visits and case management," Sharon Allen, Bright Futures coordinator, said. "We want to assist families in becoming aware of the importance of family stability."
Bright Futures has recently expanded into 11 counties and the Choctaw Reservation after its trial program in Washington County. The program now assists 559 families in the state.
"The Washington County pilot project had exceptional success," Allen said. "At the end of 18 months, Washington County experienced a 2 percent repeat pregnancy rate compared to its normal 60 to 65 percent."
A major objective of the program is to get the mothers to value their children. A case management team evaluates each family's situation and then develops an individual plan to work toward meeting their goals. A case management team consists of an early identification worker, a parent educator and family support workers.
Overall goals for Bright Futures include:
- Promoting healthy development and preventive care for all infants and children;
- Providing parents with programs to help them develop positive parenting skills;
- Preventing child abuse and neglect;
- Helping parents develop problem-solving skills that will enable them to meet their family's needs; and
- Helping parents develop life skills designed to help them improve their quality of life and strengthen family stability.
For more information on Bright Futures, contact your local extension office.