Nurturing Coordinator: Joyce Parton
Nurturing Facilitator: Sarah Amspaugh

Program:  The evidence-based Nurturing Program is a family-based program for the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. The Nurturing Program was developed to help families who have been identified by child welfare agencies for past child abuse and neglect or who are at high risk for child abuse and neglect. Nurturing classes are provided primarily for court- mandated and DFCS- mandated parents who are working case plans to regain or keep custody of their children. Approximately 2% of the participants are self-referred and are taking the class to improve their parenting skills.

The goals of the Nurturing Program are to 1) increase the parent and child's sense of self-worth, personal empowerment, empathy, bonding, and attachment; 2) increase the use of alternative strategies to harsh and abusive disciplinary practices; 3) increase parents' knowledge of age- appropriate developmental expectations, and 4) reduce abuse and neglect rates. By completing questionnaires and participating in a discussion, role-play, and audiovisual exercises, participants learn how to nurture themselves as individuals and in turn build their nurturing skills as caregivers.

Participants develop their awareness, knowledge, and skills in five areas: (1) age-appropriate expectations; (2) empathy, bonding, and attachment; (3) nonviolent nurturing discipline; (4) self- awareness and self-worth; and (5) empowerment, autonomy, and healthy independence. Nurturing parenting is based on the philosophy that parenting is learned: the way caregivers were raised directly influences the way they raise their children. The program helps caregivers learn nurturing behaviors in place of others that are hurtful to children. A basic principle of the nurturing philosophy is that most caregivers would rather build happy, healthy interactions in their families rather than struggle with problems they were never taught to solve.

Program Statistics: In 2020, 35 adults were enrolled in Nurturing Parenting classes. The parents attend weekly classes for 15 weeks. In 2021, 47 adults were enrolled in Nurturing Parenting classes.

Community Collaboration: The Parent Education Program accepts referrals from Juvenile Court, the Department of Family and Children Services, the Conasauga Drug Court, Probation Officers, Parole offices, as well as Family Law attorneys.