Faith-Based and Community-Based Organizations

Faith-Based and Community-Based Organizations are invaluable resources to families in Florida. Below are protective factors shown to help strengthen families even during tough times. There are also simple ways any organization implement one or all of the protective factors.

Nurturing and Attachment: Cuddling, playing, talking and listening build positive bonds. When parents and children have strong, warm feelings for one another, children develop trust that their parents will provide what they need to thrive, including love, acceptance, positive guidance, and protection.

There are various ways your organization can promote parental nurturing and attachment. Some examples of activities include:

  • Sponsor workshops for parents and caregivers on playing with infants, young children and youth.
  • Sponsor activities for families that promote positive parent and child interactions.
  • Recognize local organizations that have family-friendly policies, such as flexible work schedules, paid maternity/adoption leave, and paid sick leave, that gives parents time to bond with or care for their children.

Parental Resilience: Parents who develop the flexibility and inner strength to cope with the stress of everyday life and the occasional crisis are able to bounce back when things are not going well.

Examples of how your organization can enhance knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development:

  • Supply local pediatricians with reproducible factsheets about child development or adoption (children who have experienced trauma) that can be given to parents during well-child exams.
  • Sponsor classes and support programs for new parents and adoptive parents.
  • Offer trainings for childcare providers, teachers and others about the key aspects of child development and the relationship between effective parenting and brain development.
  • Offer trainings on trauma informed care for adoptive children.
  • Disseminate information to the community about normal crying and activity levels of children at different ages to increase understanding and help reduce pressures on parents.

Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: No one is born knowing how to parent. It helps to learn success strategies for safely calming a crying baby, potty training, exercising age-appropriate discipline, and dealing with teenagers who no longer want to follow rules.

Examples of how your organization can strengthen parental resilience:

  • Explore how local faith communities organize members to support new parents or other families under stress including adoptive families. Share effective models with other groups.
  • Offer free or low-cost stress management classes at local community centers, adoption agencies, businesses, or schools.
  • Sponsor communication and conflict resolution classes for couples including adoptive parents.
  • Provide brochures and other resources for teachers, adoption case-workers, and child care providers to share with parents who are under significant stress.

Social Connections: Getting together with friends, family and neighbors and attending school and community events helps families build positive, supportive relationships and reduces the sense of isolation that is a risk factor for child abuse and neglect.

Activities your organization can provide to help build social connections include:

  • Sponsor multigenerational activities like picnics and street fairs that reflect the community┬┤s culture through music, food, and games. Sponsor adoption events that promote or celebrate adoption and adoptive families (e.g. Heart Galleries, Explore Adoption, and annual adoption celebration or finalization ceremony events). Engage parents in organizing these events.
  • Recruit volunteers for mentoring programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Befriend-a-Child, Family to Family. Create a mentoring program for adoptive families.
  • Provide safe, accessible venues for families to meet and socialize. For instance, invite an adoptive parent support group to meet monthly in your facility.

Concrete Support in Times of Need: Especially in difficult economic times, families can feel like they're falling apart and don't know where to turn. Whether the need is food, shelter or treatment for substance abuse or mental illness a variety of state and community resources are available.

Examples of activities your organization can help ensure adequate concrete supports for families include:

  • Provide a community network for families needing services, to ensure they do not fall through the cracks.
  • Make information available about accessing community resources (e.g. housing, health care, employment assistance, post-adoption counselors, food banks, Angel Food sites) readily available no matter where families initially turn for services and support.
  • Educate faith and community leaders about issues in your community and the need for services and programs that support healthy and safe children and families.
  • Encourage faith-based and community-based organizations to collaborate, leverage funding, and share resources to address specific needs of families.

Social and Emotional Competence of Children: Children's emerging ability to interact positively with others, self regulate their behavior, and effectively communicate their feelings has a positive impact on their relationships with their family, other adults, and peers. Parents and caregivers grow more responsive to children's needs and less likely to feel stressed or frustrated as children learn to tell parents what they need and how parental actions make them feel, rather than "acting out" difficult feelings.

Examples of your organization can help build social and emotional competence of children include:

  • Sponsor enrichment activities for children that also include parents.
  • Supply families or professionals that work with children with reproducible factsheets about child age appropriate social and emotional skills.
  • Sponsor parental support groups so they can share resources and exchange ideas.

Learn more about how your organization can strengthen families.

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