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Amarillo program helping families is back to in-person session at Family Support Services

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 6:06 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Parents in Amarillo looking to improve overall family communication, now have the opportunity to do so through a workshop.

A few years back, Irene Lopez would describe her family as chaotic.

“If you ever saw the woman at the grocery store with the child screaming, that was me,” said Lopez. “I couldn’t get my kids to listen to me.”

Wanting to take charge of her home, she and her husband started the Strengthening Families Program offered at Family Support services.

“Now my kids are entering the teenage years and it has gotten us to a place where we feel more comfortable guiding them and they’re more able to come to us,” said Lopez.

As the name indicates, the program aims to keep families strong through classes designed to help them develop positive discipline practices, stay resilient in tough times, reduce conflict, improve parenting skills and more.

“The things that they learn in this program are probably skills they already know,” said Monica Balderas, prevention education coordinator, Family Support Services. “When you have a family who may be dealing with a job loss or maybe the loss of a parent or incarceration, those basic skills go out the window so, we just reinforce them week to week. Some families come in barely, barely trying to survive and we want to take them from that to be able to thrive.”

Classes take place in community centers, schools and churches.

“We strive to create a network of parents so that when we step out, they can look at each other for support,” said Balderas.

The 14-session program offers a family meal and free childcare for children five and under.

Balderas says that what makes the program successful is having parents and children going through the same challenges as a group.

“They talk about hard things, such as, drugs and alcohol, role modeling, good behavior for their younger siblings and they discuss a lot of things that teens are going through right now, such as, depression, anxiety, how to battle those situations as well,” said Balderas.

Occasionally, the program would also offer case management so, for example, if a family can’t buy groceries FSS would connect them with the necessary resources.

Lopez says her family would’ve been lost without the program, and encourages other families to give it a try.

Sessions are available for families with children ages six to 17, for more information call (806) 342-2500.

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