As we enter the holiday season, most of us can look forward to enjoying a festive time with family and friends.
But for some families, this time of year causes stress that leads to child abuse or neglect.
Should you know of families in distress, encourage them to contact The Parenting Center so our professional staff can help them.
Our mission is to provide family members and professionals in North Texas with the tools, resources and services to prevent child abuse and neglect by promoting positive parenting and to serve as a resource center when abuse does occur.
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Our services include clinical counseling for families and children, play therapy and parenting education classes at the center, in the Fort Worth and Arlington school districts and in homes throughout Tarrant County.
We partner with other organizations that address the concerns that revolve around parenting and abuse, such as Child Protective Services, the Fort Worth Housing Authority and Mental Health Connection of Tarrant County.
We also refer clients for specialized services from Catholic Charities, One Safe Place, SafeHaven, Texas Re-Entry, Union Gospel Mission, the Women’s Center and others with whom we work.
The Parenting Center was established in Fort Worth in 1975 as the Parenting Guidance Center, a collaborative effort of the Junior League of Fort Worth, the Sid W. Richardson Foundation and the state of Texas.
Our nonprofit agency serves more than 15,000 clients each year from all income levels and social groups across Tarrant County, and we have served more than 480,000 families since our founding.
As we mark our 40th anniversary, we know that our work is far from over.
According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Data Book for 2014, Tarrant County claimed the No. 1 spot for confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect.
With 11 child abuse/neglect-related fatalities in Tarrant County, our community has the fourth-highest ranking in Texas.
We know that 78.9 percent of confirmed perpetrators are parents, and 22.7 percent of victims are between the ages of 1 and 3.
These statistics confirm the obvious: Parenting is tough, and families need help.
Couples like Jessica and Vincent know the difference that help from the Parenting Center can make.
Last year, the couple’s two children were removed from their home because of an addiction to drugs.
The distraught and confused couple made drastic changes in their lives in order to raise their children together.
They enrolled in our Empowering Families Project, an eight-hour relationship class that teaches communication skills, as well as our Nurturing Parenting Series, an internationally used, evidence-based program that addresses empathy, discipline and other skills to enhance relationships within the family.
The committed couple stayed strong and remained drug-free, completing the 11-week class as well as their official service plan from Child Protective Services.
The couple’s two children were returned to a different, safer home with more positive surroundings, and the family continues to receive counseling on coping skills and anger management.
Strong families are the center of a strong community.
Look closely this holiday season.
Your neighbors, your co-workers — even your own family — may need positive parenting support.
Let’s surround the children and families of our community with the support we all want to have.
Jonathan Robinett is president of the board of directors at the Parenting Center in Fort Worth. www.theparentingcenter.org