For over ten years, the United Way of Southeast Missouri has allocated funds to the Community Caring Council for its "Successful Parenting Program." The goal of this program is to provide parent education and support for parents and other caregivers in order to strengthen family units and to increase their knowledge of parenting skills.
How does the Community Caring Council accomplish that? Two five-week parenting sessions are offered annually at no charge to the participants. The Spring Session in March/April is held in the city of Cape at Evangelical United Church of Christ and the Fall Session in September/October is held in the city of Jackson at the University of Missouri Extension Center.
All family members are encouraged to attend as a group, including children. Each session starts with a light meal for the family as a whole. Then, the youngest children are directed to childcare, older youth are directed to the Youth Curriculum sessions, and adults participate in the Adult Curriculum sessions. Youth and adults have corresponding topics each of the five weeks.
Research done by University Extension shows that families are strengthened through increase in knowledge and increase in their understanding of basic parenting skills as presented in the curricula. Evaluations collected at the end of the five-week sessions consistently report increases in parenting knowledge and increases in family strengths.
Strengthening families strengthens each individual in that family, adults and youth. Adults will become better parents, better employees, more involved with their children's education, and more likely to serve as positive role models at home in their community. Youth will be physically and mentally healthier, will do better academically, will stay in school longer, and will be more likely to develop positive relationships with peers, teachers and other adults.