‘Whole’ family approach aims to lift residents out of poverty, part 2

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2017

By Christi Webb

unique multi-generation learning program aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable families is spreading across Mississippi and should reach all 82 counties by January 2018. Recently, 100 Families First for Mississippi staff came together for a three-day training session conducted by the highly respected National Center for Families Learning.  NCFL and Toyota have a long track record together, bringing this successful approach to over 2 million families across the U.S since 1989. We have seen great results from the multi-generational approach. One of those success stories is Kim, a 32-year old single mother whose 6-year old daughter has a hearing impairment and Addison’s disease.  Before enrolling in the two-generation program, Kim became very frustrated with her daughter’s behavior in school and at home.  She credits NCFL Family Learning for teaching her the skills she needed to help her child with homework, encourage positive behavior and to build a positive relationship.

“I’ve learned how to better work with my daughter on homework and reading,” Kim said.  “She’s gone from struggling to now improving her reading scores and having better behavior in school.”

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Meantime, Kim, who was receiving government assistance due to a job loss, is now living independently and working full time as an administrative secretary at a mental health center.  She is also pursuing a degree in office administration.

In addition to gaining skills to help their children succeed in and outside the classroom, parents also are instructed in the areas of technology, English language, self-efficacy, interpersonal communications, problem-solving, and time management. These employability skills prove extremely valuable as they look to either join the workforce or go after a better job. Finally, children participating with their parents in Family Service Learning will see the application of their education firsthand on their own pathway to success.  Also, they are more likely to grow up and serve their own communities by following their parents’ example.  This approach to Family Service Learning empowers families to become a part of the solution to their own communities’ problems. I feel very strongly that this program will reap great rewards – it will help pull families out of poverty.  However, for it to work and grow, we will need the support of not only DHS, Families First and NCFL, but, also, other non-profit groups, volunteers, government leadership and ordinary Mississippians who want to see their fellow citizens succeed.  Anyone interested in learning more about this program, please call us at 662-844-0013 or visit us at FamiliesFirstforMS.org.