|Martha Edwards, Director of the Center|
for Developing Child and Family
You have a lot going on – working with families with very young children, implementing a program in the New York City public schools, creating a new project for families with special needs children. Can you tell us about these three areas of your work?
It’s very exciting because we just received two new grants -- one for our work in the schools and a second to work with teen mothers. Our third program – for special needs children and their families – is looking for additional funding.
Let’s start with the recent recognition and grant that the Competent Kids, Caring Communities program received.
|Garden of Achievers from |
Competent Kids, Caring Communities
|Teacher doing deep breathing |
exercises with students
This recognition and grant come at a perfect time. In July, Tynisha Wynder joined CKCC Director Zina Rutkin and faculty members Fran Schwartz and Irma Mazan as the program’s full-time Coordinator and will be a major force in shepherding CKCC’s expansion.
Center Associate Director, Judy Grossman, started the Special Needs Project this year. What has her group been focused on?
Working with Center faculty Sara Goldsmith, the team (comprised of Ackerman graduates) spent the first half of the year as a learning community, augmenting their family therapy skills with additional information about developmental disabilities, brain research, different therapeutic approaches, and the special education process. The project then began to take referrals and see families through the Ackerman Treatment Center who have children with autism, ADHD and other special needs. This year we are expanding to include: (1) A discussion group for parents with special needs children; (2) staff development workshops at schools and community agencies so they can implement family-centered practices with special needs children; and (3) training and co-leading parent discussion groups in schools so their staff can offer this service to their families. We are looking for additional funding so that we can offer these services to as many families as possible.
What is happening with your parenting programs for families with young children: Bright Beginnings and Personal Best?
|Mother participating in Bright Beginnings with her 2 children|
Personal Best is a 16-week group intervention for parents (without their children). Based on principles of adult development, it is designed to help parents improve their coping, communication and problem solving skills and also support them in their multiple roles as parent, partner, worker, and community member.
Although Bright Beginnings and Personal Best are “stand alone” manualized curricula, we think that parents really benefit from participating in both. We are doing that in three Early Head Start Programs in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens and in one community agency in Brooklyn. We have trained approximately 50 staff in these agencies to implement an integrated version of Bright Beginnings and Personal Best in which over 700 families have participated. Groups are conducted in English, Spanish, and three Chinese dialects and all of the parent materials have been translated into Spanish and Chinese. Center faculty Barbara Russek and Yolanda Martinez are taking the lead on implementing our revised video feedback and home visiting components.
The Bright Beginnings and Personal Best programs have been funded by the Robin Hood Foundation for multiple years and just received new grants from two other foundations. Can you tell us a little bit about how these will be used?
|Family involved in the Personal Best Program|
As a result of hearing about our work with teen mothers in these residential programs, New York’s ACS Commissioner, Ron Richter, asked us to expand our reach to include teen mothers living in foster homes. We currently have a planning grant from New Yorkers for Children Foundation to conduct a series of focus groups with teen mothers, foster parents, home finders, and case planners as well as interviews with agencies across the city to assess what teen parents in foster care need to make a successful transition into adulthood and parenthood and to give their babies a good start in life. Center Administrator, Brenda Nikelsberg, is back from maternity leave and is working with us on organizing all the information we’re collecting so that we can develop a strategic plan for these young mothers and their children.
To learn more about the Center for Developing Child and Family, go to the Ackerman Institute website at: http://www.ackerman.org/