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Special Opportunities for Healthy Congregations churches

Strengthening Families Program special opportunity

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The United Methodist Health Ministry Fund is partnering with the UM General Board of Global Ministries to provide a special opportunity for Healthy Congregations churches to receive training in the Strengthening Families Program. GBGM is underwriting the direct training costs, and UMHMF is covering food, overnight accommodations, and mileage (carpooling is encouraged) so that there are no costs to participants.

Strengthening Families is a nationally and internationally recognized parenting and family strengthening program for both high-risk and general population families. SFP is an evidence-based family skills training program found to:

  • Significantly improve parenting skills and family relationships
  • Reduce problem behaviors, delinquency, and substance abuse in children
  • Improve social competencies and school performance
  • Decrease child maltreatment through strengthened bonds between parent and child, and more effective parenting skills

Trainers are provided with a DVD containing ten 30-minute SFP lessons and printable handouts.

See the Frequently-Asked Questions (below) for more details on SFP and how your church can get started.

Basics:

Three volunteers will participate in a two-day training to learn how to deliver the program to parents and caregivers. This training is made available at no cost to participants (see above). Upon completion, the trained volunteers (at least two per session) will facilitate 11 or 12 sessions targeting caregivers of children 7-17 years of age in the community. Each session generally lasts an hour and a half, although there is some flexibility.

Necessary components to participate:


1. A Healthy Congregations team. Not already participating? You can become eligible by signing up as a UM Healthy Congregation church.
For more information about Healthy Congregations and becoming part of this program, visit healthfund.org/churches

2. Three volunteers to complete training and deliver the program

A team of three volunteers from your church and community to participate in the training - with at least two able to be present for each session. No specific background is required, but a significant time commitment is required so having someone who can tie this initiative into their work can be especially beneficial.

If your community is large enough, consider training two teams of three; likewise if your church and community are quite small, consider partnering with a nearby community to form a team.

3. Registration for training
If interested in participating, please sign your team up online here. The next open training session is May 12-13 in Wahoo, NE. A later training opportunity is under consideration but not yet scheduled. Please contact Katie Schoenhoff katie@healthfund.org if you have any questions about the program or the training. Please register early - each training is limited to the first seven teams to sign up.

Katie will contact registered teams to coordinate next steps and training details.

Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • What ages of children/youth does this program target?
    • Children ages 7-17 years
  • What is the length of each session?
    • As long as all of the material is covered, the program offers flexibility in session length. Generally, 11 to 12 sessions each lasting an hour and a half will complete the curriculum.
  • What are some different formats communities have used in hosting the classes?
    • A variety of formats have been successful. It is possible to run the program as a family Sunday school program, for example. In that case, sessions would need to be kept to one hour (or less). Another church has implemented the program on weeknights as an alternative to traditional Bible study. Others have offered the program on weeknights at community centers as an outreach.
  • Have some groups included meals to encourage participation?
    • Yes - many who use this program do provide meals as a way to help families attend.
  • Global Ministries pays for the training and materials, but who then provides books for those attending classes?
    • Handouts and materials for participants are provided in printable format on the DVD. Copies could be printed by the church or other community supporter; costs should not be significant.
  • How does a session work?
    • The easiest way to implement the program is to play a segment of the DVD for the group (with discussion leaders following a very detailed script). The script will provide information about when to pause the DVD, what to say to the group, and will provide tips on how to respond to typical statements/questions from participants. The discussion leader training will cover this and will include time to practice running sessions and watch other trainees run sessions.
  • Beyond the two-day training, how much time and commitment does the program require of discussion leaders?
    • This would be comparable to that of a conscientious Sunday School teacher who takes time to prepare for each lesson.
  • If parents are working, could grandparents attend with children?
    • This is a parent coaching class and it is designed for children to attend with their primary caregivers - in cases where the primary caregivers are grandparents it makes sense for them to be in the class.
  • Are clergy eligible to lead the class? Or does it have to be lay-led?
    • It can be led by clergy - it can also be led by laity or others in your community who are part of the team. This may be a great opportunity for outreach.

Please contact Katie Schoenhoff at 620-662-8586 with questions or for additional information.