CPS launches new hands-on program

Amarillo, Texas

By Sarah Seeley

Keeping children out of Child Protective Services custody and educating parents is the goal of a new monthly program to teach families real-world skills to help make them better families.

At today's event, the Amarillo Fire Department brought their fire safety house to show parents and kids how to protect themselves during a fire.

CPS wanted this once-a-month program to be fun and educational for families who are already working one-on-one with case workers.

"In the past we've sent families and parents to individual classes some counseling, drug treatment, whatever, and it was a formalized thing where they worked with case worker," said Greg Cunningham from CPS.  "What we're doing here is we get them all together in a more relaxed atmosphere where they can talk with each other and take strength from each other"

Nicole Trask was one mother at today's event who wanted to be a better parent.

So she enlisted the help of a CPS case worker to teach her how to be a better mother.

"I've learned how to change my lifestyle, [and] different ways of thinking instead of resulting back down to the things that used to occur so," said Trask.   "[Through the program I am]growing up mentally, [it's] something I never really had the chance to do."

The FBSS program is a volunteer program for parents that need a little bit of extra help learning what they need to do to be better parents.

"With Nicole's case we've provided her with parenting and we've also done some self esteem services with her and that's been real beneficial in her case," said Karen Cresap, Trask's CPS case worker.

Most of those classes are in a formal setting, so CPS kicked off their monthly Family Education Program to help put families in real-life situations where they can get practical help.

"We're basically just trying to give them the skills that they need to be better parents, and by doing that we can reduce the stress level in the house and that's what's going to reduce child abuse," said Cunningham.

Trask's first attempt with the program wasn't as successful, but her drive to succeed brought her back one more time.

"She's more motivated this time around, she's willing to make the necessary changes to keep her kids safe and secure," said Cresap.

Through the program, Trask is working on finishing the last part of her GED.