Padres con Iniciativa/Parents with Initiative
With our focus on promoting wellness to children in our community, we offer a parenting education program to help prevent child abuse and neglect and to empower parents with the skills they need to raise healthy, well-adjusted children. This program is called Padres con Iniciativa or Parents with Initiative (PCI). Now in its 23rd year, PCI has helped to transform the lives of thousands of children since its implementation.
Utilizing a nationally recognized, evidence-based curriculum and one-on-one coaching, PCI directly impacts a number of risk factors for child abuse or neglect: social isolation, poor parenting skills, low self-esteem, and lack of support. The curriculum is in Spanish, and all materials for parents are designed for low-literacy comprehension. In addition, we offer transportation to the classes for participants, overcoming transportation barriers often faced by many of the families we serve.
For more than 20 years, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center has been reaching out to families in need of support and education on effective parenting. Called Padres con Initiativa, the curriculum was developed by a nurse who saw too many families struggling with self esteem and communication problems that could lead to defiant behavior and domestic violence.
The program was originally designed to serve a largely Hispanic, migrant farmworker population. But as the Virginia Garcia client population has grown and changed, so has the Padres con Initiativa program. Families in the program enroll in a 12 part parenting class that teaches everything from childhood stages and development, to positive discipline to early literacy. Parents are taught listening and communication skills and simple ways to reduce personal and family stress. They are taught as parents to model good relationships.
(Pictured at right, Ignolia Duyck and Padres con Initiativa participant.)
Each family also has a case manager who can arrange transportation to classes, and follows up with a home visit to access their progress. “Our families get much more than just the parenting classes, home visits and transportation” said Ignolia Duyck, Virginia Garcia outreach manager. “They also receive love, understanding, empathy and an ear that listens to their needs.”
That ear is parent educator, Ileana Henriquez. Henriquez joined Virginia Garcia eight years ago and continues to improve the ‘Padres’ program by focusing on self esteem and family issues the Virginia Garcia population faces. “She understands the isolation, sadness and frustration many of these families feel due to being uprooted from their homes. For many of them, their dreams have been destroyed by the lives they find themselves living here. Ileana is helping them overcome some of those frustrations by giving them skills they can use in their daily lives,” said Duyck.
When Maria Luna, a young mother with two young children came to Padres con Initiativa she was isolated, highly stressed and completely frustrated in her daily life. She yelled at her children, wasn’t able to play with them and they watched TV most of the time. The classes gave her childcare skills, and most importantly, a support network. She plays with her children a lot now and her family life and marriage are much better, according to Henriquez.
“We are seeing more young parents,” said Henriquez “and have adapted our program to their needs”. Henriquez is also helping participants in her classes to learn some basic English. She has started a book program where parents get a new book to read to their children each week and report back what they have learned. Padres con Initiativa is one of Virginia Garcia’s longest running, most successful programs and Henriquez is grateful for the commitment Virginia Garcia has shown.
Click here to read the Padres con Initiativa spotlight.