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JIS News

The Coalition for Better Parenting will be placing focus on fathers next year as it continues to carry out its mandate of strengthening parenting skills to build strong families.
“I think this is going to be a thrust for us in 2006 . we have been looking at the family approach and some work is being done but I really think that a lot more has to be done. Whereas we would just deal with the family and encourage the fathers, the fathering part will be a major focus next year,” says Dorrett Crawford, Coordinator of the Coalition.
She notes that last month, Hope for Children, which is a member agency of the Coalition, hosted a graduation ceremony for over 600 parents from Greenwich Town and surrounding communities, who had participated in workshops, but only 11 men were among the graduates.
“I think perhaps we will have to develop some major strategy as to how to involve fathers more in these workshop”, she states, noting that it has been a cultural practice for men to be the breadwinners and women to act as caregivers.
In addition to reaching out to fathers, Miss Crawford says that the agency in 2006, will be focusing attention on rebuilding its foundation after a period of dormancy from late 2002 to mid-2003. During the period, contact was lost with a number of the member agencies, which significantly affected the work of the Coalition.
Miss Crawford, who assumed the leadership of the organization last, vows to get the organisation back on track and fulfil its mandate of ensuring that parents develop a fuller understanding for their roles.
She notes that over the past year, the Coalition has been working to mend partnerships. “What we have been doing is trying to gain momentum to get back on the map.the projects that we had out there on the ground haven’t died but perhaps had weakened and so we have been trying now to get funding to carry through to complete many of our projects.”
Formed in 1991, the Coalition’s main objective is to “help parents understand their rights and responsibility to raise well-balanced, happy and healthy children.”
It receives funding from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Youth and the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF).
In the Coalition’s quest to improve parental abilities, she says that a collaborative approach is pursued through a network of some 40-member agencies. The agencies span the gamut from those dealing with advocacy, conflict, work and community, custody, substance abuse, adoption and foster care, legal matters, disability, and counselling.
Among its membership are the Ministries of Education and Health, the National Family Planning Board, Father’s Incorporated, National Council on Drug Abuse, the Jamaica Foundation for Children, Mico Care Centre, the HEART/NTA, and the Women’s Centre Foundation.
Guidance counsellors function as critical agents for the Coalition, acting as community relation officers (CROs). “The CROs mobilise the community people, the parenting groups, and the workshops that the Ministry continues to have,” Miss Crawford says.
According to her, “the Coalition takes a life cycle approach to parent training and by life cycle, I mean we view the child and the demand for parenting as varying, according to the stage of the child’s development.” This is from early childhood to young child, followed by adolescence, and finally, the adult child phase.
She acknowledges that while the Coalition shares the government’s national emphasis on early childhood, as “we firmly believe that when you start right it is very possible you end up right, it is equally important that life beyond early childhood be paid fair attention”.
With the Coalition on the verge of its 15th year of existence, the Coordinator beliefs that in addition to its many published research papers, one of its most significant achievements has been its involvement in the training of parents through workshops held across the breadth of country.
“I think our parent training model is one of our greatest achievements.the many workshops we have had, you just have to see the kind of network that is already developed,” she says.
The Coalition is preparing the second run of the parent-training model with financial assistance from UNICEF.
The model is used in conducting workshops through the Coalition’s member agencies where parents are exposed to better parenting techniques. These cover areas as conflict management, disciplining your child, parental stress, and the importance of fathers in the lives of their children.
“It is called the PSAT model (parent support and training), Miss Crawford told JIS News, noting that, “we take a community approach.”
She says however, that more funding is needed to take the training even further and is calling on the private sector to lend its support, as “parenting is vital to the whole development and progress of Jamaica.”
“So, when we appeal to them, we are asking them not to think . they are making a contribution to the development of Jamaica, and making their own lives better.”
“The fact of the matter,” she notes, “is that parents need training as they are dealing with a new breed of children, they have no manual, the culture is so fragmented .and so parents need training.”