“The program is designed for a parent-child interaction and how they can work together and grow as a family instead of as individuals,” said Chrissy Jones, Transitions assistant director.
According to Brenda Hughes, BICC director, two years of foundational research went into Transitions. Research shows transitions from elementary school to middle school and middle school to high school are critical periods in a child’s life. According to the program’s brochure, it is during these times children are most influenced by negative peer pressure.
“Those transitional years when a child goes from elementary to middle and middle to high are some of the most vulnerable of their lives,” Hughes said. “If you put that on a scale from negative behavior to instructed behavior, then there is a spike at age 10 and 15. I venture to say if you ran a graph out to 70 years, there would never be another spike as high for this measurement.”
All families within Cleveland and Bradley County with children 6-16 are eligible for the program. Child care will be provided during the sessions for children ages 6 and younger. Families with a 17-year-old can contact Keri Clouse, Transitions director, for approval. Clouse and Jones are two recently appointed employees at BICC. Both appear interested and excited for their programs.
Clouse said nontraditional families are welcome to take part in the program, as well. A nontraditional family may include, but is not limited to, grandparents raising their grandchildren or a single-parent home.
“If one parent in interested in attending, and the other is not, then the family may still attend. We are flexible with that,” Clouse said. “We are really trying to meet the needs of families within our community and if they want to come, then we are willing to be flexible as much as we can to help them.”
The program must involve parent-child interaction. This is not a program where children are dropped off or parents independently attend classes.
“The program is designed for parent-child interaction. It is about how they can work together and how they can grow as a family, not as individuals,” Clouse said. “It is important a guardian attends with the child.
Two types of sessions are offered through the program: a seven week preventative course for “normal” families and a 14 week course for high-risk families. All children and at least one parent and/or guardian are asked to attend.
“If there is a parent with two or three children and one child is acting out, then we don’t want them to only bring the child acting out,” Hughes said. “The message the child receives is, ‘In order to receive attention, then I have to be bad.’ You should bring them all, because they are all in your family.”
Incentives are being offered for families participating in the program. Every session will begin with a precooked, free family meal. Child care will be provided and a cash reward will be given upon completion of graduation.
Each session will be three hours long. There will be an hour of separated instruction for parents and children following the family meal. Group leaders will help the families go through skill-building curriculum during this hour. Parents and children then have an hour to come together and practice what they have learned. The final hour consists of reflection and evaluation of the material.
“The curriculum is rated exemplary across the board,” Hughes said. “It is an excellent curriculum, proven to have great outcomes.”
Group leaders are certified in the Strengthening Families Program curriculum. According to the program’s brochure, the curriculum builds on protective factors by improving family relationships, parenting skills, and improving the youth, social, and life skills.
Those interested in registering may submit a BICC Transitions interest form several different ways: online at www.bicc-inc.org; by calling Clouse at 423-559-1112; emailing her at email@example.com; or by picking up a form at 2810 Westside Drive N.W., Suite E, Cleveland TN 37312.
Anyone interested in becoming a group leader trained in the Strengthening Families Program may contact Clouse.