Watertown— Approximately, 169,000 calls were made to Department of Children Services in the 2012 year and 60,000 of those were child abuse cases. Annually, out of the 2,000 children that die from abuse and neglect, 10%-12% are a direct result from Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) and 25% die from SBS injuries. Earlier research conducted by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), found that 1 out of 10 children lived in homes with a substance-dependent or a substance-abuse parent.
According to Family Counseling Services (FCS), whether you are a first time parent or not, parenting education can never be a negative thing. FCS has recently revamped their “Nurturing Parent Program,” a preventative evidenced-based program, geared to reach parents in need of developing better parenting skills. “Empathy is huge in the Nurturing Parent Program,” said Erin O’ Connell, licensed Mental Health Counselor at FCS.
Ms. O’ Connell explained that the families seen so far are all referrals from Social Services. “We see anyone from parents who have caused Shaken Baby Syndrome to their child, to parents suffering with substance abuse and those that are physically abusive.” According to Family Physician, Doctor Lynn Pisaniello (OBGYN) who has been delivering babies for 29 years, SBS can be directly related to mothers with Postpartum Depression. “Postpartum Depression is a problem with adjustment and most women who suffer from it are first time mothers,” said Doctor Pisaniello. “Women need to know that they are not alone, that there is always someone on her side.”
The Nurturing Parent Program attempts to reach parents by going to their home or place of residence and providing weekly educational sessions. Each parent takes an assessment before and after the program, so that parent educators can determine the level of strength and weaknesses in each parent. This home-based, parent-educating program comes with 55 home lessons, however not all 55 lessons are always necessary.
The program customizes itself to fit the need of each parent and can therefore last anywhere between 3-4 months on average or sometimes up to 6 months. “We teach parents about role reversal, when the kid is the parent verses the parent being the adult,” said Ms. O’Connell. “We also teach parents about Shaken Baby Syndrome because we hear a lot of that happening.” According to Ms. O’ Connell, using baby simulators which records everything, enables parents to learn how to handle babies. Empathy is the key ingredient that FCS tries to infuse within their Nurturing Parent Program, so is teaching parents proper expectations especially for first time parents.
Although the Nurturing Parent Program works with parents referred to them by Social Services, any parent interested in parental education is encouraged to attend.
For mothers to be, Care Net is also another program in the community that helps mothers during pregnancy with the following:
• Pregnancy Tests
• Early Pre-Natal Care
• Postpartum Depression Education
• Maternity Clothes
• Parenting Classes
• Shelter (Brook Haven House)
• Domestic Abuse Counsel