GONZALES — The Texas Agricultural Extension Service and Texas Department of Health will host a Building Healthy Families training series beginning April 28.
The training is part of Extension’s Master Parent Volunteer Program.
The course is designed to train volunteers in assisting parents of young children. Volunteers are often teachers, social workers, child care providers and health personnel.
Talma Benevides, county Extension agent in Corpus Christi, has been coordinating her county’s program since 1994.
“In Nueces County, we’ve got one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in an urban area. So a lot of our volunteers are using this information on parenting with the actual work they’re doing,” Benevid es said.
Dr. Dorothy James, Extension family life specialist, said the program is not limited to professionals.
“Volunteers also can lead small groups, work one-on-one in the home, perform community support services such as putting up exhibits and writing public service announcements, or they can assist the c ounty’s program coordinator,” James said.
Volunteers will receive training in personal skills like communication and anger awareness.
“They also will receive fundamental parenting skills, infant and toddler health, safety, family resource management and food and nutrition training,” Benevides added.
Benevides estimated about 85 volunteers have been trained in her county. Volunteers reach about 2,500 parents a year.
“Volunteers help people to become more effective parents. One of the things we try to impress upon parents is that they’re not bad parents — but babies don’t come with instruction books and that’s what we can provide,” Benevides said.
Volunteers will receive 24 hours of instruction. Kits to assist volunteers will be handed out and are provided by the Children, Youth and Families Initiative Grant. Classes will be held from 8:30 a. m. to 5 p.m. April 28, May 13 and May 18 at St. James Catholic Church Parish Hall, 417 N. College.
Registration is $30 before April 28. On-site registration is $35. For more information, contact Natalie Stevens-Knesek, Gonzales County Extension agent, at (830) 672-8531 or E-mail email@example.com.
Other agency personnel, schools or county Extension agents who would like more information on how to host a Master Parent Volunteer training in your county, please contact Dr. Dorothy James, (979) 845- 6468 or fax (979) 845-6496.